LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A Nevada judge cited what she called "serious violations of duties of candor" by Las Vegas Sands Corp. lawyers, and said she'll rule next week on possible fines against attorneys and perhaps the casino company itself.
County District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez finished a three-day sanctions hearing Wednesday faulting Las Vegas Sands and Sands China Ltd. lawyers for failure to disclose documents to attorneys representing a former Macau casino executive whose civil lawsuit alleges he was wrongfully fired in 2010.
The judge has said she's upset that lawyers for Macau-based Sands China and its U.S.-based parent company failed to disclose the material last year to her and to the legal team of former Sands China chief Steven Jacobs, even though the documents had been brought to Las Vegas from the Chinese enclave.
After three days of testimony about who knew what and when, Gonzalez said Las Vegas Sands' conduct amounted to "very serious violations of duties of candor to the court by counsels representing a party," the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported (http://bit.ly/QmqUM6).
The judge said she'll issue her written ruling next week. She has said she won't send anyone to jail. She noted Monday that she found little case law to govern sanctions she might impose under Nevada state court rules for civil procedure.
Las Vegas Sands, headed by billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, owns the Venetian and Palazzo resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, and the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. Its majority-owned subsidiary, Sands China Ltd., runs the Venetian Macao and Sands Macao casino resorts, the Plaza Macao hotel, restaurant and shopping complex, and the Sands Cotai Central resort with three hotels and two casinos.
Adelson also is a prominent philanthropist and political donor to U.S. Jewish and Republican causes and candidates.
Jacobs' lawsuit, filed in 2010, has drawn interest to the company from U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission investigators for possible violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The law bars U.S. companies from paying foreign officials to "affect or influence any act or decision" for commercial benefit.
The sanctions matter arose out of the disclosure in court in June that Las Vegas Sands possessed at its Las Vegas headquarters a computer hard drive containing emails sought by Jacobs' lawyers as evidence in the wrongful termination lawsuit.
Attorneys for the parent company told the judge as recently as last May that they couldn't turn over the material because it was in Macau, and covered by that country's Personal Data Protection Act.
Gonzalez scheduled the sanctions hearing after learning the first data arrived in Las Vegas in August 2010, followed by other data transfers.
Attorney Todd Bice, representing Jacobs, called the episode "an assault on the court" that could not be excused as a mere lapse in judgment.
The unusual hearing, during which the judge and lawyers for Jacobs questioned current and former Las Vegas Sands and Sands China lawyers under oath, drew frequent objections from attorneys hired to defend the lawyers that their answers would violate strict attorney-client confidentiality rules.
J. Stephen Peek, lead attorney for Las Vegas Sands, apologized on the witness stand for what he said was an effort to balance protecting the company under Macau law with being candid with the court.
"If I made a mistake in that balance, I'm sorry," he said.