U.S. Markets closed

Las Vegas Sands case nears end after 9 years

Hannah Dreier, Associated Press

FILE - In this Friday, April 5, 2013, file photo, Las Vegas Sands Corp. CEO Sheldon Adelson testifies in Clark County district court in Las Vegas. Attorneys began closing arguments Thursday May 9, 2013, in the dispute between Las Vegas Sands and a fixer who says he helped the casino giant win a license in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Nine years of litigation between a Hong Kong businessman and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is drawing to a close.

Attorneys began delivering closing arguments in a Las Vegas courtroom Thursday in the dispute between Las Vegas Sands Corp. and a fixer who says he helped the casino giant win a license in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau.

The lead attorney for Richard Suen argued that Sands owes Suen $328 million for setting up key meetings in the early 2000s, giving the company advice, and telling Adelson about Macau in the first place.

"Mr. Suen is the one who alerted Mr. Adelson to the opportunity. Now we can say he might have stumbled upon that opportunity later. The important thing is not to know what might have happened, but what did happen," the lawyer, John O'Malley, said.

Sands attorneys say Suen is owed nothing because he failed to hand-deliver the license. Instead, Sands won it through a competitive process.

Macau, a former Portuguese colony an hour west of Hong Kong by ferry, has since emerged as the world's most lucrative gambling market.

It's the second time this fight has played out. A jury decided in Suen's favor in 2008, but the Nevada Supreme Court overturned the verdict because the judge admitted hearsay evidence.

Suen filed the lawsuit in 2004 after failing to reach a compensation agreement with Sands.

The second jury has not been informed that the case is a re-trial. Over the course of five weeks, jurors have heard testimony from Sands' one-time president, a former Chinese diplomat, and Adelson's brother, who was also Suen's business partner.

Adelson himself testified for three days in April.

The multibillionaire acknowledged that Sands' chief operating officer agreed in 2001 to pay Suen a "success fee" of $5 million, plus 2 percent of the company's profits from its Macau casinos. But he said Suen would have had to deliver far more than he did to earn that fee.

Adelson and his wife returned to the courtroom Thursday without the phalanx of assistants and security guards that previously accompanied them.

Sands' attorneys are expected to make their closing arguments Friday.

Both Adelson and Suen remained stone-faced throughout the day.


Hannah Dreier can be reached at https://twitter.com/hannahdreier .