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

by

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.”

blog comments powered by Disqus

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS
Frontline Journalism Fund

Supporting Investigative Reporting

Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Park Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Wyncote Foundation, and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation.
PBSCPBMacArthur FoundationPark FoundationFord Foundationwyncote

FRONTLINE   Watch FRONTLINE   About FRONTLINE   Contact FRONTLINE
Privacy Policy   Journalistic Guidelines   PBS Privacy Policy   PBS Terms of Use   Corporate Sponsorship
FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of WGBH Educational Foundation.
Web Site Copyright ©1995-2014 WGBH Educational Foundation
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.