China says Macau casino licenses are "internal matter" for gambling hub

BEIJING, April 8 Mon Apr 8, 2013 1:08am EDT

BEIJING, April 8 (Reuters) - China said on Monday that Macau's casino license process is an internal matter for the special administrative region of Macau after a lawyer in a U.S. court trial involving billionaire Sheldon Adelson alleged Beijing's involvement.

At the trial in Nevada, Adelson's Las Vegas Sands is being sued by Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen who claims he is owed millions of dollars for helping the casino obtain an operating license in Macau more than a decade ago.

Suen, who is seeking $328 million, alleges the Las Vegas company stiffed him on an agreed upon "success fee" for helping secure a permit for a hotel and casino in Macau, the world's most lucrative gambling market.

In his opening argument on April 5, Suen's lawyer, John O'Malley, detailed meetings he said Suen arranged for Adelson, including with one of China's then-Vice Premier Qian Qichen and with Beijing Mayor Liu Qi. The lawyer said Adelson offered help in defeating a U.S. House of Representatives resolution against awarding the 2008 Olympic Games to Beijing.

In its first official comment on the matter, China's government said it won the 2008 Olympics in accordance with the relevant processes and dismissed any involvement in Macau's license process.

"The process was carried out by the special administrative region's government by themselves on the principles of openness and transparency in accordance with the law," China's foreign ministry said in response to a query from Reuters.

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