Journalism in the Public Interest

Sheldon Adelson’s Casino Company Stirs Fresh Questions With Admission It ‘Likely’ Broke Federal Law

Las Vegas Sands’ filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on a possible violation of anti-bribery law leaves unanswered the most fundamental questions about its conduct in Asia.


Las Vegas Sands' Sheldon Adelson is seated before Romney delivers a speech in Jerusalem in July 2012. A filing by the casino company with the SEC on a possible violation of anti-bribery law leaves unanswered the most fundamental questions about its conduct in Asia. (Charles Dharapak/AP Photo)

Last week's admission by Sheldon Adelson's casino company that it had "likely" violated provisions of the federal law barring U.S. companies from bribing foreign officials raises some intriguing questions. Chief among them: Which transactions by Las Vegas Sands and its far-flung subsidiaries are at issue?

Adelson, one of the world's richest men, came to public prominence during the 2012 campaign, when he and his wife Miriam donated at least $98 million to various candidates and groups. Included was $30 million for the Restore Our Future super PAC that supported Mitt Romney and $20 million to Winning Our Future, a super PAC that backed Newt Gingrich. Late in the campaign, Adelson asserted that federal investigators had targeted his company because of his political activity.

The terse statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission by Las Vegas Sands noted "likely violations of the books and records and internal controls provisions of the FCPA" (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) had come to light after three independent members of the board investigated "matters" raised by a February 2011 subpoena from SEC investigators and by an ongoing Justice Department inquiry.

In a news release issued Sunday, the company said the violations it had detected related to the "accounting provisions" of the law, not its "anti-bribery provisions."

Several news organizations have examined Las Vegas Sands' efforts to build its gambling business in Asia. The Investigative Reporting Program of the University of California, PBS Frontline and ProPublica published a story last year that disclosed the role of a local lawyer/legislator in overcoming regulatory hurdles in Macau, an autonomous region of China that is home to some of the company's most lucrative casinos.

Subsequently, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal wrote detailed stories that centered on Yang Saixin, a shadowy Beijing businessman who told the Times that Las Vegas Sands had paid him $30,000 a month until his firing in 2009.

According to the Times' account, the company provided more than $70 million to companies tied to Yang to construct a trade center in Beijing and sponsor a basketball team. Several million dollars were "unaccounted for" after those projects were shut down, the Times reported.

Las Vegas Sands has declined to elaborate on its filing but did tell the SEC that "in recent years, the Company has improved its practices with respect to books and records and internal controls."

How could it be illegal for a foreign company to give millions of dollars to an American presidential candidate? What could possibly be wrong with that?

A republican breaking the law a surprise?  No.  Just look at the 21 elected or appointed GOP officials convicted during the Dubya regime.  That’s just one reason why the are so hard to believe or trust.

people are surprised repubs would accept black money or favors, dam?
never seem to quit getting the shock how gullible are we re electing then time and again we need new blood

William C Crain

March 5, 2013, 6:03 p.m.

Wow he’ll be as popular as Michael Pollard the famed spy/traitor/prison inmate ~ they can kibbitz ha ha ha and play dradel ~ talk about Greater Israhell ~ be great if we the people took all his money (via court orders of course) and gave it to the Palestinians!

I’m pretty sure Sheldon broken a number of rules with that rust hair thing…

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