(Adds comment by Sands)
By Farah Master
HONG KONG, July 11 A former Macau business
partner of Las Vegas Sands Corp accused the casino
operator of misappropriating trade secrets and is suing Sands
for at least $5 billion in profits that it says are owed via
their joint ownership of copyright related to a casino license
Asian American, headed by Taiwanese businessman Marshall
Hao, filed the complaint in U.S. District Court in Nevada on
Wednesday. The case is in addition to two separate, ongoing
legal actions in Macau over an alleged breach of contract.
Las Vegas Sands, run by Chief Executive Sheldon Adelson, and
Asian American jointly submitted a bid for a gaming concession
in 2002 in Macau, which has since become the world's largest
gambling hub. But during the process, Sands switched partners,
teaming up instead with Hong Kong group Galaxy Entertainment
The Sands-Galaxy combination went on to win a license in the
former Portuguese colony over a decade ago, beating contenders
that included MP Entertainment Company Limited, MGM-Grand Macau
Limited, and Macau Star Limited, a subsidiary of Malaysia's
Asian American alleges in its latest filing that after Sands
terminated its joint venture, the company submitted a
near-identical replica of its previous submission with new
"This is an action for money damages arising out of profits
owed to plaintiff by LVSC for use and benefit of the work which
ultimately led to the Las Vegas Sands enterprise securing a
Macau concessions contract," the company said in the complaint.
Las Vegas Sands, in a statement on Friday, denied the
"Using a different lawyer every time, AAEC (Asian American)
has repeatedly filed lawsuits trying to take credit for that
which they didn't do," Las Vegas Sands said in the statement.
"U.S. courts have consistently rejected those efforts. Las
Vegas Sands will respond to this latest version of the same
meritless lawsuit in court."
The case is the latest in a string of court cases that
involve Las Vegas Sands' earlier dealings in Macau. Sands was
forced to pay $70 million to Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen
last year, after he sued the company claiming it had failed to
make good on a promise to pay him for helping it get permission
to operate a Macau casino.
Macau, on China's southern coast, is the only part of the
country where citizens are legally allowed to gamble in casinos.
With $45 billion in revenue last year, seven times that of Las
Vegas, it has proved a gold mine for operators.
Asian American argues that Las Vegas Sands' record earnings
were in large part due to its Macau resort and claims that Sands
is guilty of disclosing information to Galaxy which was so
sensitive that the parties "hired bodyguards" to protect the
Details included the cost of the project, its impact on
Macau, the construction of a Venetian-style resort casino and a
partnership with Jerde Partnership International. Adelson's
Macau unit, Sands China, is now the world's second
largest gaming company by market capitalization, behind its Las
Asian American's Macau lawyer Jorge Menezes said the Nevada
and Macau lawsuits have different causes of actions.
"Suing in Nevada does not hinder the Macau lawsuit's
progress," he told Reuters.
Another case plaguing Sands is a long-running legal tussle
with former employee Steven Jacobs, who is suing for wrongful
termination of his contract.
Investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice and the
Securities and Exchange Commission are examining whether Sands
has violated federal anti-corruption laws.
Despite the ongoing legal cases, Sands is building a new
casino resort in Macau called the Parisian, a replica of the
Eiffel Tower expected to open in the next two years.
(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Leslie Adler)