Journalism in the Public Interest

Inside the Investigation of Leading Republican Money Man Sheldon Adelson

In just a few years, the chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands created a gambling empire in Macau that made him one of the world’s richest men. Now, Sheldon Adelson’s business methods are under expanding scrutiny by federal and Nevada investigators.

Chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corporation Sheldon Adelson, center, watches a lion dance at the opening ceremony of Sands' Cotai Central in Macau on April 11, 2012. (Aaron Tam/AFP/Getty Images)

This story was co-published with PBS' "Frontline."

A decade ago gambling magnate and leading Republican donor Sheldon Adelson looked at a desolate spit of land in Macau and imagined a glittering strip of casinos, hotels and malls.

Where competitors saw obstacles, including Macau's hostility to outsiders and historic links to Chinese organized crime, Adelson envisaged a chance to make billions.

Adelson pushed his chips to the center of the table, keeping his nerve even as his company teetered on the brink of bankruptcy in late 2008.

The Macau bet paid off, propelling Adelson into the ranks of the mega-rich and underwriting his role as the largest Republican donor in the 2012 campaign, providing tens of millions of dollars to Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and other GOP causes.

Now, some of the methods Adelson used in Macau to save his company and help build a personal fortune estimated at $25 billion have come under expanding scrutiny by federal and Nevada investigators, according to people familiar with both inquiries.

Internal email and company documents, disclosed here for the first time, show that Adelson instructed a top executive to pay about $700,000 in legal fees to Leonel Alves, a Macau legislator whose firm was serving as an outside counsel to Las Vegas Sands.

The company's general counsel and an outside law firm warned that the arrangement could violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. It is unknown whether Adelson was aware of these warnings. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act bars American companies from paying foreign officials to "affect or influence any act or decision" for business gain.

Federal investigators are looking at whether the payments violate the statute because of Alves' government and political roles in Macau, people familiar with the inquiry said. Investigators were also said to be separately examining whether the company made any other payments to officials. An email by Alves to a senior company official, disclosed by the Wall Street Journal, quotes him as saying "someone high ranking in Beijing" had offered to resolve two vexing issues — a lawsuit by a Taiwanese businessman and Las Vegas Sands' request for permission to sell luxury apartments in Macau. Another email from Alves said the problems could be solved for a payment of $300 million. There is no evidence the offer was accepted. Both issues remain unresolved.

According to the documents, Alves met with local politicians and officials on behalf of Adelson's company, Las Vegas Sands, to discuss several issues that complicated the company's efforts to raise cash in 2008 and 2009.

Soon after Alves said he would apply what he termed "pressure" on local planning officials, the company prevailed on a key request, gaining permission to sell off billions of dollars of its real estate holdings in Macau.

Las Vegas Sands denies any wrongdoing. But it has told investors that it is under criminal investigation for possible violations of the U.S. anti-bribery law. Adelson declined to respond to detailed questions, including whether he was aware of the concerns about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act when he directed payment of the bill from Alves' law firm.

The documents depict Adelson as a hands-on manager, overseeing details of the company's foray into Macau, which is now the world's gambling capital.

They show that Alves helped the company address a crucial issue: Adelson's frayed relations with officials in Macau and mainland China.

Alves met with prominent Macau officials on Las Vegas Sands' behalf, emails show. When Adelson made a three-day trip to Beijing, Alves accompanied him, billing more than $18,000 for his services.

Alves promoted himself to Adelson as someone "uniquely situated both as counsel and legislator to 'help' us in Macau," according to an email written by a Las Vegas Sands executive.

The then-general counsel of Las Vegas Sands warned that large portions of the invoices submitted by Alves in 2009 were triple what had been initially agreed and far more than could be justified by the legal work performed.

"I understand that what they are seeking is approx $700k," the general counsel wrote to the company's Macau executives in an email in late 2009. "If correct, that will require a lot of explaining given what our other firms are charging and given the FCPA," the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Adelson, described by Forbes Magazine as the largest foreign investor in China, ultimately ordered executives to pay Alves the full amount he had requested, according to an email that quotes his instructions.

Alves holds three public positions. He sits on the local legislature. He belongs to a 10-member council that advises Macau's chief executive, the most powerful local administrator. And he's a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, a group that advises China's central government.

Alves did not respond to detailed questions from reporters about his activities on behalf of Las Vegas Sands, saying in an email that the work he had done — "legal services" — was unrelated to his government positions. "I would never use my public offices to benefit the company, nor have I been asked to," Alves wrote.

Several Las Vegas Sands executives resigned or were fired after expressing concerns about Alves' billings. These include Las Vegas Sands' general counsel and two top executives at Sands China, its Macau subsidiary.

Alves briefly severed his relationship with the company in early 2010, according to internal documents, but was rehired months later as outside counsel, a role he still plays.

The internal Las Vegas Sands documents were obtained by reporters working for the University of California's Investigative Reporting Program as part of an ongoing collaboration with ProPublica and PBS Frontline.

The documents include dozens of emails, billing invoices, memos and reports that circulated among top executives of Las Vegas Sands and its attorneys. The documents were provided by people who had authorized access to them. They offer important glimpses of the company's dealings in Macau and China, but are not a complete archive.

One invoice, for example, notes that Alves billed $25,000 for "expenses" in Beijing with no further explanation.

The documents shed new light on an issue separate from Alves' work: the company's difficulties in avoiding contact with Chinese organized crime figures as it built its casino business in Macau.

Nevada law bars licensed casino operators from associating with members of organized crime. State investigators are now assessing whether Las Vegas Sands complied with that rule in its Macau operations, people familiar with the inquiry said.

William Weidner, president of Las Vegas Sands from 1995 to 2009, said he understood from the beginning that opening casinos in Macau meant dealing with "junkets" — companies that arrange gambling trips for high rollers.

Gambling is illegal in mainland China, as is the transfer of large sums of money to Macau. The junkets solve those problems, providing billions of dollars in credit to gamblers. When necessary, they collect gambling debts, a critical function since China's courts are not permitted to force losers to pay up.

Weidner said junkets are a natural result of China's controls on the movement of money out of the country, channeling as much as $3 billion a month from the mainland to Macau.

"To Westerners, the junkets mean money laundering equated with organized crime or drugs," he said. "In China where money is controlled, it's part of doing business."

Weidner resigned from the company after a bitter dispute with Adelson.

Nevada officials are now poring over records of transactions between junkets, Las Vegas Sands and other casinos licensed by the state, people familiar with the inquiry say. Among the junket companies under scrutiny is a concern that records show was financed by Cheung Chi Tai, a Hong Kong businessman.

Cheung was named in a 1992 U.S. Senate report as a leader of a Chinese organized crime gang, or triad. A casino in Macau owned by Las Vegas Sands granted tens of millions of dollars in credit to a junket backed by Cheung, documents show. Cheung did not respond to requests for comment.

Another document says that a Las Vegas Sands subsidiary did business with Charles Heung, a well-known Hong Kong film producer who was identified as an office holder in the Sun Yee On triad in the same 1992 Senate report. Heung, who has repeatedly denied any involvement in organized crime, did not return phone calls.

Allegations about the company's dealings with Alves as well as its purported ties to organized crime are prominently mentioned in a 2010 lawsuit filed by Steven Jacobs, former CEO of Sands China.

In the suit, Jacobs contends he was fired after multiple disputes with Adelson, which included the continued employment of Alves and the company's dealings with junkets.

Las Vegas Sands declined to respond to detailed questions about the emails, billing invoices or purported relationships with organized crime figures including Cheung and Heung. Nor would it comment on the federal or Nevada investigations.

Adelson told investors last year that the federal investigation was based on false allegations by disgruntled former employees attempting to blackmail his company.

"When the smoke clears, I am absolutely not 100 percent but 1,000 percent positive that there won't be any fire below it," he said, adding that what investigators will ultimately find "is a foundation of lies and fabrications."

At least one prominent Republican has expressed concern about the source of Adelson's campaign contributions. "Much of Mr. Adelson's casino profits that go to him come from his casino in Macau," Sen. John McCain noted in an interview last month with the PBS "NewsHour."

"Maybe in a roundabout way, foreign money is coming into an American political campaign," said McCain, an Arizona Republican.

The questions raised by McCain and others have not prevented Adelson, the self-made son of a Boston cabdriver, from emerging as a powerful political figure in both Israel and the United States. A longtime backer of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel, Adelson created a free daily newspaper, now Israel's largest, that supports the policies of Netanyahu's Likud Party.

His family's $25 million in contributions kept Newt Gingrich in the presidential race. He has been widely reported as donating $10 million to a super PAC supporting Mitt Romney. A "well-placed source" recently told Forbes Magazine that Adelson's willingness to financially support Romney was "limitless." A filing with the Federal Election Commission last night shows that Adelson and his wife, Miriam, gave $5 million to the "YG Action Fund,'' a super PAC linked to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican.

* * *

Macau's emergence in the 21st century as the biggest gambling center in the world, with $33.5 billion in annual revenue — four times that of Las Vegas — is a matter of history and geography.

A former Portuguese colony, the tiny peninsula was handed over to China in 1999. It has its own legislature, laws, court system and chief executive, all of which exist under the umbrella of Chinese control.

For generations, profits from Chinese gambling flowed primarily to a single local company. But after China took control, authorities agreed to let foreign companies get a piece of the action.

Las Vegas Sands was among more than a dozen companies to apply for a license. Its plans were among the most expansive, calling for an American-style complex of hotels, casinos, shopping malls and luxury apartments.

The first of four Las Vegas Sands casinos, the Sands Macau, opened its doors in 2004. It was immediately successful as well-heeled gamblers from the mainland flocked to the tables.

Over the next several years, the company pushed ahead with its multibillion-dollar construction projects on a strip of reclaimed land known as Cotai.

But in the summer of 2008, Las Vegas Sands faced a cash crunch. The global economic slowdown hit revenues at its casinos in Nevada. And gambling slowed in Macau after China's central government abruptly cut down on the number of visas it granted for travel to the region. Suddenly, the company was struggling to make payments on billions of dollars in long-term debt.

Executives at Las Vegas Sands began looking at ways to raise cash in Macau. To do this, the company would need some help from local officials.

It wasn't clear they would get it.

In China, relationships, or guanxi, can make or break an empire. Adelson's relationships in Macau and China were frayed. George Koo, a member of the Las Vegas Sands board of directors, wrote in a confidential memo that Adelson's behavior had offended political figures in both Macau and China.

Koo quoted a prominent Macau official as saying Adelson had "slapped the table in front of Edmund Ho," Macau's chief executive. "Supposedly, Ho has said that he will not see SGA anymore," the memo said, using Adelson's initials.

Accompanied by Alves, Koo met with the Macau chief executive over lunch. According to Koo's memo, Ho expressed his regret that Adelson "has burned so many bridges with Beijing," the memo said.

According to Koo's account, a top Chinese official overseeing Macau named Liao Hui was so angry at Adelson that he refused to meet with him. It is not clear from the memo what caused the rupture, but Koo said Adelson turned to "the Israeli military to arrange a meeting with Liao" who initially agreed but then said he would only send his deputy. No meeting ever took place, the document says.

Weidner, who resigned as president of Las Vegas Sands in March 2009, said in an interview that Adelson was "out of his element" dealing with Chinese officials.

Weidner recalled struggling to explain Adelson's style to the Chinese, once comparing his boss to a famous emperor who became angry with China's scholars and buried them alive with their books. "I would tell them: 'He is brilliant. Sometimes, like the emperor, he is brutal.'"

Leonel Alves seemed to be an ideal person to smooth relations.

A Macau native, born of a Portuguese father and a Chinese mother, the attorney had been a fixture in the local scene for decades, and was nimble in the face of shifting political tides.

In the years leading up to Portugal's handover of its onetime colony to China in 1999, he was among a select group of local residents chosen to serve on the transition team.

Alves became a Chinese citizen and dedicated himself to learning China's official dialect, Mandarin, to complement his fluency in Portuguese, English and Cantonese. His legal practice was already successful. He boasted to local reporters of his car collection, which included a Ferrari and a BMW M3.

Las Vegas Sands put Alves' law firm on retainer in midsummer 2008, naming him as an outside counsel. Documents show his firm was to be paid $37,500 a month for 80 hours of work, with additional hours to be billed at a rate of more than $550 an hour.

Over the years, the Justice Department has made it clear that American companies can employ foreign officials. But companies have been told they must take great care and create safeguards to prevent such officials from using their position or political standing to gain commercial advantage.

T. Markus Funk, a partner at the Perkins Coie law firm and co-chair of the American Bar Association Global Anti-Corruption Initiatives Task Force, declined to discuss the specifics of the Las Vegas Sands inquiry. But he said companies generally avoid hiring sitting local officials as lobbyists or representatives because of the risk that they will improperly end up wielding their influence.

"It would be a huge red flag," said Funk. "If you are paying someone because you think they are going to have a questionable backroom discussion, essentially a quid pro quo relationship, that's a no-no. You can get yourself in big trouble pretty quickly."

In response to written questions, Alves said in an email that his political career has never conflicted with "my profession as a lawyer." He said his office had "been scrutinized by the Chinese and American authorities like few have in Macau, and no authority has ever had any suspicion."

Alves noted that his multiple government posts did not "confer to me any executive and administrative power" or the ability to "influence" what he described as "the relevant authorities."

U.S. companies sometimes ask the Justice Department in advance for an opinion on whether a particular hire constitutes a violation of the law. It is not known if Las Vegas Sands posed such a question about Alves. Funk, a former federal prosecutor, said that a company following "best practices" would look closely at both the size of the proposed payments and the procedures put in place to assure compliance.

"I'd want to make sure the individual is getting paid an appropriate scale," Funk said. "I'd want to get some assurance he was familiar with the FCPA and had agreed to abide by its terms. I'd want a code of conduct in place and I'd want to see detailed billing statements."

One of the first issues Alves addressed was Las Vegas Sands' request for permission from local authorities to sell a mall and 300 luxury apartments it had built next to one of its casinos, the Four Seasons Macau.

The company's original agreement with the government did not allow it to break up the property into separate pieces for sale. If Sands could amend the agreement, it would open the way to raise billions.

On Aug. 12, 2008, Alves wrote an email to Luis Melo, who was then Las Vegas Sands' in-house counsel in Macau. He wrote that he was planning to meet with local officials to "monitor and apply pressure" to what he called the "revision process" of the "land concession contract." It is not known whether the meeting took place or what, if anything, Alves said to other officials in the government.

In late September, the secretary of Macau's Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau declared that Las Vegas Sands had to abide by its original contract with Macau, which did not permit the property to be sold separately.

"The terms in the concession contract are very clear and any move must be according to what is written in the contract," he said, according to a report in The Macau Daily Times.

That statement came at a critical moment for Las Vegas Sands. With the collapse of Lehman Brothers in the United States, even the most solvent companies were finding it impossible to borrow. At the end of September, Adelson staked his company $475 million of his own money.

In October, planning officials handed Las Vegas Sands much of what it was seeking. They said they would allow the property to be divided into four parts: the casino, the apartment complex, the mall and a parking garage. Each could be sold separately. In their decision, Macau officials said they were trying to help Las Vegas Sands address its need for more capital.

The company portrayed the decision as a victory and said it "paves the way" for the sale of the 300 luxury apartments.

The company's financial condition continued to worsen. It halted construction on its massive projects in Cotai. In November 2008, Adelson kicked in another $525 million of his own money. That month, the company told investors it was in danger of defaulting on $5.2 billion in loans. Such a default, auditors warned, could threaten the company's survival.

Ultimately, Las Vegas Sands did not sell the apartment building or mall. (It continues to seek final permission to sell individual apartments.) The company moved to raise capital through another route: an initial public offering of stock on the Hong Kong exchange that, it was hoped, would bring in billions of dollars.

Once again, local law posed challenges to the company's plans. And once again, Alves stepped forward to help.

* * *

One key to Las Vegas Sands' survival in Macau was its ability to whisk customers from Hong Kong to the doors of its casinos. The long-established ferry route unloads its passengers in downtown Macau, about a three-mile drive from Adelson's casinos in Cotai.

Las Vegas Sands had created its own ferry service, Cotai Waterjets, which dropped gamblers at a dock just a short shuttle ride from its casinos.

But the future of Cotai Waterjets was unclear. A competing ferry service had filed a complaint alleging the government had improperly awarded the concession to Las Vegas Sands without competitive bidding.

In February 2009, a Macau court agreed, voiding the contract.

Alves set to work. In the spring of 2009, he arranged what a billing invoice from his firm describes as "meetings and contacts with the Macau Government."

On Oct. 19, 2009, Alves met with Edmund Ho, Macau's chief executive, and Fernando Chui Sai On, Ho's soon-to-be successor. (Ho was the Macau official who had purportedly refused to meet with Adelson.)

It is not known what was discussed. Alves billed Las Vegas Sands for two hours of his time, according to his invoice.

Also that day, Alves billed for more than an hour of phone calls with company executives, his invoices show.

Las Vegas Sands was explicit about what was at stake, telling Hong Kong investors in a public filing that loss of the ferry concession "could result in a significant loss of visitors to our Cotai Strip properties." This would have a "material adverse effect on our business," the company said.

Within days of Alves' meeting with Ho, Las Vegas Sands won a stunning victory. Ho issued an administrative regulation that allowed ferry contracts to be awarded without competitive bidding. The court rulings against the company were moot. Las Vegas Sands retained control of its route and ultimately obtained several new ones.

Attempts to reach Ho were unsuccessful.

The initial public offering launched in late November 2009, raising $2.5 billion for Las Vegas Sands.

Alves remains a member of the Executive Council. He declined to discuss his interactions with Ho or the council.

* * *

Just as Sands was resolving several of its thornier legal issues, a dispute erupted among its executives over Alves that had far-reaching consequences.

It began on Oct. 20, 2009, shortly before the ferry decision was announced, with a seemingly routine event: Alves' firm submitted bills for its recent work.

The firm said it was charging at triple the previously agreed rate to account for the work it had done on the public offering, scheduled for the following month. In an email, Las Vegas Sands' in-house lawyer in Macau, Luis Melo, objected, noting the invoices were "not in accordance" with the letter which spelled out the financial terms of Alves' retainer.

The issue reached the desk of J. Alberto Gonzalez-Pita, general counsel at Las Vegas Sands headquarters in Nevada. In an email, Gonzalez-Pita expressed concern about a sudden request for more money from an outside lawyer who was also a foreign official, saying such a payment would require "a lot of explaining."

With the bill still unpaid, Alves submitted his resignation effective in February 2010.

An internal email shows he continued to report privately to Adelson, delivering at least one message from the company's chairman and CEO to Macau's government.

Separately, he also pushed to return to Sands China.

In March, Alves submitted a new proposal, asking to be paid $125,000 a month with no obligation to provide billing details, internal records show.

Gonzalez-Pita, the Las Vegas general counsel, rejected the idea. "It's outrageous," he wrote. "Our corporate retainer with Paul Weiss is almost three times less per month," he said, referring to the company's outside counsel, New York-based Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

Gonzalez-Pita elaborated a week later.

"I continue to believe this proposal to be inappropriate, unrealistic, extraordinarily expensive and way above market," he wrote to Jacobs, the CEO of Sands China who had originally been recruited to handle the IPO. "Been a long time since I've seen a lawyer or a firm make as naked a power play as has LA," Leonel Alves. "He sure has chutzpah."

Jacobs decided against rehiring Alves. "Let's talk about a replacement for outside counsel," he wrote in a March 10, 2010, email to Melo, Sands China's general counsel in Macau.

"The transition will not be easy ... and has a high probability of becoming messy ... but it is the right thing to do for the business," he wrote.

Jacobs told Alves that he would not be retained, emails show.

The same day, Jacobs informed colleagues that he had paid the disputed invoices after Alves submitted a more detailed account of the work he had done on the public offering. Jacobs wrote to Gonzalez-Pita that he had been "instructed by SGA and MAL to pay and close out the matter."

The initials SGA and MAL are used within the company to refer to Sheldon G. Adelson and Michael A. Leven, the president of Las Vegas Sands.

"I am sorry that this was not communicated to you but I am glad that FCPA outside counsel did not highlight any substantial issue with the payment," Jacobs wrote.

Gonzalez-Pita replied that Jacobs was mistaken and that the company's outside lawyer had identified the payments as a possible violation of the U.S. anti-bribery law.

"Unfortunately," Gonzalez-Pita wrote to Jacobs: "FCPA counsel did highlight a problem" with paying Alves anything more than his normal fees "plus a commercially reasonable premium."

"While I can appreciate that you received instructions to make the payment," Gonzalez-Pita wrote on March 12. "I wish you would have advised me so I could have intervened."

Gonzalez-Pita resigned from the company in April 2010.

On July 23, Las Vegas Sands fired Jacobs. A month later, the company dismissed Melo and the rest of the legal team in Macau, according to the lawsuit Jacobs subsequently filed in Nevada.

In that action, Jacobs said he was dismissed for refusing Adelson's "illegal demands," including an order that he fire Melo and replace him with Alves. Las Vegas Sands said in court briefs that it fired Jacobs for disobeying orders and working on unauthorized deals.

The company rehired Alves as outside counsel in the fall of 2010, a position he still holds. It is not known how much he is being paid.

In April of this year, Sands China opened Cotai Central, the $4 billion project it had temporarily abandoned in 2008, when the company stood at the brink. Within six hours of the opening, Sands China reported, more than 84,000 people pushed through the new casino's doors.

Matt Isaacs and Lowell Bergman reported on this story for the Investigative Reporting Program of the University of California and PBS Frontline. Some of their work was underwritten by a grant from the Nathan Cummings Foundation. Engelberg is managing editor of ProPublica.

I got nothin’.  I mean, there’s a half-formed wisecrack about the novelty of someone in the gambling business working in an area controlled by organized crime involved in corruption, but other than that…

Smells of extortion/bribery/blackmail. Typical organized crime activities. Republicans should return all “donations” from SGA. SGA should be prosecuted to the highest extent of US law.

Benito Simón

July 16, 2012, 1:03 p.m.

Adelson and friends are attempting to build a Las Vegas Europe venue in Spain. The choice is Barcelona or Madrid. Spaniards are divided on casinos convenience for our country. Promoters says that they will create 15.000 new jobs (Spain is in a dramatic unemployment situation, over a 25%). Adelson asks for taxes exemption, private spanish capital (more of 66%) and no regulations on tobacco and no minimum age of acces to casinos. It’s a extrange situation. Maybe we ‘need’ the investment and these jobs, but we are not sure about the terms of the agreement and concerning of what will ocurre as destination of all gamblers of E.U. and the other people that moves around money, hotels and sex and drugs. Will see.

Barry Schmittou

July 16, 2012, 1:57 p.m.

ProPublica wrote :

“The then-general counsel of Las Vegas Sands warned that large portions of the invoices submitted by Alves in 2009 were triple what had been initially agreed and far more than could be justified by the legal work performed.”

“I understand that what they are seeking is approx $700k,” the general counsel wrote to the company’s Macau executives in an email in late 2009 [7]. “If correct, that will require a lot of explaining given what our other firms are charging and given the FCPA,” the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”

Government investigators (who are not influenced by that money) please follow that money and the huge corporate contributions received by candidates of both political parties !!

Looks like SGA has been trying to buy an election for a pardon or at the very least a DOJ that looks the other way.

Barry Schmittou

July 16, 2012, 2:52 p.m.

“a DOJ that looks the other way” sounds like a true line for a song about both political parties DOJ appointees.

It is probably a law of nature that any individual willing to give tens of millions of dollars is a slime ball, and worthy of illegal activities if not outright guilty of crim.  I mean is buying influence in China nets you billions of dollars in personal wealth, what’s to stop you from invest a measly $50 million or so to buy US politicians?

Bernard Bogard

July 16, 2012, 3:06 p.m.

Excellent journalism. Follow the money, follow the money….

well done article!

“Weidner, who resigned as president of Las Vegas Sands in March 2009, said in an interview that Adelson was “out of his element” dealing with Chinese officials. “

i think this all gets back to Adelson - his finger prints are everywhere -  Casino executives are serious people and understand the hot button issues with the Nevada Gaimng Commission who are an outstanding organizaiton that do not miss anything - their reviews are always well done - Adelson is a loose cannon and these guys all knew it - one after the other resigns

so that leaves Romney and those - stinkin regulations that should be abolished - foreign corrupt practices act -  circa 1974-5 adelson game plan isnt about supporting Israel - its about losing a control shareholder gaming license in multiple jurisdictions and who he needs to fix it

Thanks ProPublica. You are doing way better than BBC, TOI, Aljajeera etc. in terms of generating awareness for a greatest positive change in modern history.
Your such reportings may eventually help change the “old stupid laws” that so far have protect only the interests of wealthy thugs - the ‘buddies of a still existent privileged class of which the forefathers very dishonestly designed long ago the blueprint of the secretly manipulating, primary model of the outdated judicial system’ that in today’s digital world seriously in need of re-modelling ASAP as explained partially in

Adelson has the Republican party in his pocket. Adelson’s las vegas Venetian hosted the biggest drug trafficker from Mexico mr. ZhenLi Ye, ferrying him from Mexico city to vegas with his drug millions to launder at the Venetian. Mr. Ye ended up losing some $126 Million at the Venetian and laundered perhaps billions. Mr. Ye was busted by the DEA/FBI in 2007 while staying at the Venetian, he was tipped off about a raid at his Mexican properties.
Adelson was not cited because he was protected by Bush/Cheney admin.
Karl Rove, Ari Fleisher, Tom Delay and other prominent republicans were all at one time on Adelson’s payroll.

For some background info,  read this investigative reporting.

Looks to me like Soros has met his match! No longer controls elections. Glad to see a new player in the game. Sure makes Clinton’s foreign fund raising look pitiful, but then selling military secrets used to be treason, but since the ‘Amateur’ gang of ly’n thieves hit DC anything goes! Anyone who can kick their butt should be congratulated! We should be jailing the Department of Injustice and the gang of corruption in the WhiteHouse,

Donald Shekels

July 16, 2012, 6:54 p.m.

Bravo, Great article! Some rather interesting connections that seem to keep getting looked past, the Stanley Ho connection. Not only in regards to the racket in Macau, but his involvement in companies like Sino-Forest and Gerova Financial.

You mention Leonel Alves being outside council for LVS while on Macau Legislative Board; well Stanley Ho’s wife Angela Leong On Kei, member of Legislative Council of Macau represented an entity which got what turned out to be a 100M HKD loan for 40 months, from her son’s company, Melco Crown. Melco Crown has acted as a personal piggy bank for the Ho family.

9-17-2006 Downpayment, 100M

Termination Dec 2009

I encourage you take a look at my report, titled IHS Research Report Macau, as well as the 2 other related documents found here.

Good job

Overall, a good story.

What, someone in the gambling is industry involved in shady, potentially-illegal business practices—especially in Macau?  I’m shocked, I tell ‘ya!

Of course, nothing like this ever goes on here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.  Nope, not in Las Vegas.  I mean, nobody would have a secretive group, funded my union and Vegas casinos money, run by the former communications director of a seated US Senator.  Nope, that would never happen here.

A Fake Tea Party Group Appears in Nevada

And this is the man trying to buy our Presidential election.  Nothing would make Sheldon Adelson happier than getting rid of the Obama DOJ and squelching any legal attention he has drawn.

I don’t suppose it bothers republican voters and romney supporters that romneys campaign, and some of the republican congressional races (Eric Cantor) are being heavily financed by dirty foreign money.  Anything to win, right gop?

Well done gentlemen, a real breath of fresh air to our tawdry mainstream media.

Larry K. Grossman

July 16, 2012, 8:41 p.m.

Hate to play Kevin Bacon here but the linkages between Adelson and the Republican Party are pretty direct. So the money he is using to support his favorite GOP candidates could be from Chinese gangsters and the result of ill gotten gains from bribing foreign officials. This makes Romney’s guess what just Caymin money oh don’t tell me seem like “not very much”.

As usual , following the money leades to some slimy, illegal deal that benefits some individual or group who is violating the law for some obscene financial gain!!! Now, the richest casino owner apparently got caught red-handed doing myriad illegal acts to save his investment. No wonder he is bank-rolling the republican candidates. If they win he won’t have to worry about his illegal activities. The republicans will change all the laws and rules so he will get away with his illegal scheme.Surnely, he is not the only person who engages in these shennanigans My concern is how much foreign money is involved in his actions and thus influincing our elecction?

Dolores Marconi

July 17, 2012, 12:45 a.m.

Pretty funny; expanding scrutiny by federal and Nevada investigators means he contributes to them as well. Big surprise.

Great story. As anywhere, just by virtue of generating business on a large scale one would have influence, but Adelson looks to be over his head outside of Nevada’s good old boy, shit-kicking, yada yada.  Did Adelson jump ship after supporting the Bush Administration that caused Nevada tourists drought? What I think I’m hearing is that The Sands man bungles a huge real estate project in Macau and is seeking favors. When his huge bet on the wrong American presidential candidate fails to impress the people he disrespects by banging his fist on the table!  You have to wonder if Sheldon Adelson is finally all in.

Thank you and great piece! What kills me is, despite all of this very important information and scandal being reported, alot of people refuse to educate themselves about facts like these and choose to cast thier votes in favor of a candidate that will further cripple our Great Country and Economy! Again, thank you!!! Please keep up the good work!!!

Until recently I worked in China and assisted a number of people trying to do big projects there.  I knew that Adelson and Wynn could not possibly do business in Macau or the rest of China without breaking laws and ethical standards.  I know from experience that it is impossible to succeed without doing so.  I am so glad that ProPublica and PBS has done the hard work to uncover the reality of the situation with Adelson.  Unfortunately, the ill-gotten gains of Adelson in China are being used to buy elections in the U.S.  The only way to stop this is to reverse Citizens United AND vote against the Republicans - who, by the way, voted today to stop a bill to stop allowing unlimited secret donations to politicians.

Thanks for the great info, now if all the news stations across the USA could and would cover this, we may not all end up losing when November comes, and the exposure of why we can’t afford to gamble our future with the Republicans or a Supreme Court that lets legal criminals buy our system. 
PS thanks Rachel Maddow for covering this on MSNBC

I thought the wrap up comment Rachel made about Adelsen’s motivation about his willingness to spend ‘unlimited’ amounts to unseat Obama was the most important point of all.  Here’s a guy that very well could go to jail for the rest of his sorry life, plus have to pay fines that could amount to hundreds of millions, and hopefully billions.  So what’s a few hundred mill in order to buy you a new Justice Department.  One that would be more sympathetic to bribery of foreign officials.  Reminded me of The Pelican Brief…guess the SCOTUS should be glad he’s not counting on one of their decisions or else he might have em ‘offed’.

File this news under stuff you would have bet on.

Adelson does kind of look like The Godfather though.

Joe Maristela

July 17, 2012, 8:57 p.m.

Wow. Look at that gangster.

nice reporting, great article.

Margery Hanson

July 18, 2012, 9:49 a.m.

I know he’s not Italian however ... he sure looks like he belongs to a mob ... not sure which one ... still looks like he does though ...

Great job … reminds me of another high profile money machine run by a convicted insider trader, but since he donates millions to outfits like Propublica and NPR, I don’t think there will be too many exposes on Mr. Soros.

Speaking of which, we are all still waiting for that long overdue expose on Golden West Financial and how its portfolio of 122$ billion worth of Adjustable Rate Mortgages was a significant contributing factor to the 2008 US financial crisis and the collapse of Wachovia Bank.

Wow! You wisdom is reflected in your constructive comments: “.......we can’t afford to gamble our future with the Republicans or a Supreme Court that lets legal criminals buy our system.”
Obama with ‘wise global public support’ is capable of doing more positive things for an unlimited time.

@Mike H: ... “reminds me of another high-profile money machine run by a convicted insider trader, but since he donates millions to outfits like Propublica and NPR, I don’t think there will be too many exposes on Mr. Soros.” You need to provide links to credible sites confirming your assertions.

@ Victoria Lamb, PP will reject a comment with a link as spam. Google “soros insider trading conviction france” for the details.

Absolutely disappointed and shocked. I posted a completely conventional but critical comment on this article as soon as it was received in my in-box, essentially stating that the left-liberal media is targeting Adelson, a former poor boy self-made billionaire, because he chamipions an aggressively pro-Israel agenda and opposes same-sex marriage and other such unfashionable policy programs. My comment was summarily removed. Disappointed and shocked. I wonder how many other comments similar to mine are censored..

Dolores Marconi

July 20, 2012, 5:32 p.m.

Apparently you are fishing or you have no idea who this guy is; he is no “poor boy”. Because he a Zionist does not make him a good guy. In fact… a race fanatic of any religion is dangerous. This mobster is no exception. Get a grip.

Dolores Marconi

July 20, 2012, 5:36 p.m.

This guy’s casino in Reno is filthy and pathetic, always has been. The Las Vegas property was also a low-life mob hang-out. Think: Italian/enforcer - Jew/accounting Albanian overseer of all.

dolores marconi

July 20, 2012, 5:48 p.m.

This guy may not even be alive. Remember Howard Hughes? This guy could just be a stuffed dummy sitting there with “babes”. Don’t get all serious here.

Is this a movie script?

This man owns a daily newspaper in israel where he alledgly influences the public opinion for the right wing government . Shame and shame for what he alledgly does in the US. Shame

The portion about the ferry contract is misleading at best. The government action was widely supported by the public as it brought more competition on the ferry routes. It was not perceived as a “stunning victory” for Las Vegas Sands, but rather a loss for Shun Tak in their attempt to use the courts to prevent competition.

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