Financial documents suggested last week that Las Vegas Sands Corp. paid US$96 million to settle a 15-year breach-of-contract dispute with a Hong Kong businessman who helped the US company open its first casino in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau. The amount was listed as a 'nonrecurring legal settlement' in a US$582 million quarterly earnings report by the publicly traded company headed by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.
Adelson did not take part in a conference call with analysts, and company executives did not say anything about the single line item among 15 pages of financial figures.
No dollar amount was disclosed March 14 when the settlement between Sands and Richard Suen and his company, Round Square Co., was announced in a Las Vegas courtroom.
At the time, Suen said the battle he waged with Adelson since 2004 was 'worth it' for what he called 'the sense of justice.' Suen attorney John O'Malley and Sands attorney James Jimmerson called it a fair end to the case.
Las Vegas Sands spokesman Ron Reese declined to comment, and attorneys on both sides in the third trial involving Sands and Suen didn't immediately respond to messages.
A US$96 million settlement would surpass previous jury judgments against Sands of US$70 million in 2013 and US$44 million in 2008 after state court trials. Both times, Sands appealed. The Nevada Supreme Court upheld jury findings that Sands was liable for damages but said in 2016 that a new jury should decide how much Suen should receive.
The resulting settlement ended the trial ahead of a second day of videotaped testimony by Adelson, the ailing 85-year-old board chairman, CEO and Republican national party donor. Company lawyers say he is being treated for cancer, and he has been excused from appearing in court in person due to his health.
Suen had no written contract but said he was promised a US$5 million 'success fee' if Sands got approval from the Chinese government to open a Macau casino, plus 2% of profits over the 18-year life of a license. Sands now owns five lucrative properties in Macau.
It also owns the Venetian and Palazzo resorts and Sands Expo Center on the Las Vegas Strip and a resort in Singapore. It recently sold a property in Pennsylvania. Company stock closed on Wednesday at US$67.91, down 24 cents.