LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Casino billionaire and GOP super-donor Sheldon Adelson makes a rare public appearance Thursday as the lead witness against a Hong Kong businessman who is suing his company for $328 million.
Adelson blazed a trail of casino riches in Asia after doing the same thing in Sin City as CEO of Las Vegas Sands.
His company has faced a series lawsuits by former business associates seeking a portion of the staggering profits from the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau.
Plaintiff Richard Suen, a former business partner of Adelson's brother Leonard, says he opened the door for Sands to enter Macau by arranging meetings between executives and Hong Kong officials. Sands says those meetings didn't help the company win a license.
Adelson, a longtime supporter of Israel and the Republican Party, made headlines last year when he became the biggest donor in political history.
With his wife, Miriam, he contributed nearly $100 million to help Republican candidates. He's the ninth-richest person in America, according to the Forbes list, worth an estimated $26.5 billion.
Sands' lawyers have sought to limit media access to the multibillionaire's testimony in Las Vegas.
The team brought in Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, a renowned advocate for open court proceedings, to help argue that video and still images of Adelson's day in court could threaten the 79-year-old's security. That argument was overruled.
On Wednesday, the first day of the trial, Sands attorneys objected to the presence of a photographer. They said the clicking sound of his shutter could prejudice the jury by highlighting portions of testimony.
A bailiff also made several reporters to turn off their digital recorders, which are generally allowed during court proceedings for note taking purposes.
It's the second time this fight has played out in a Clark County court. In 2008, a jury awarded $58.6 million to Suen, but the Nevada Supreme Court overturned the verdict in 2010.
The Supreme Court said the district judge shouldn't have allowed hearsay statements during the trial, and should have told the jury to assume Macau and Chinese officials were following local laws.
Suen is now asking for more than three times the amount of compensation he requested in 2008 because of Sands' explosive success in Macau. He said he and his company were promised a $5 million success fee and 2 percent of net casino profits in exchange for helping Sands open its first casino in Macau, now the world's biggest gambling market.
Analysts say the wildly successful company is unlikely to feel the loss of a third of a billion dollars, should Suen win.
On Wednesday, Suen's legal team raised questions about how Adelson, who has trouble walking, would approach the witness stand. During the last trial he was escorted by his wife.
Suen's attorneys asked that he not enter the room on the arm of a family member this time, as it could evoke undue sympathy with the jury.
Adelson's testimony is expected to last at least two days.
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