Vegas Sands-Macau dealmaker settle 15-year case

LAS VEGAS — A settlement Thursday ended a 15-year breach-of-contract battle between Las Vegas Sands Corp. and a Hong Kong businessman who helped the U.S. company open its first casino in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau.

Richard Suen, his lawyers and attorneys for Sands said the agreement, reached after one day of testimony in the third trial in the case, prohibited them from disclosing terms.

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But Suen emerged from a Las Vegas courtroom telling The Associated Press that the battle he waged since 2004 was "worth it" for what he called "the sense of justice."

Suen had no written contract, but maintained he was promised a $5 million "success fee" if Sands got a Macau license, plus 2 per cent of Sands' Macau profits over the 18-year life of the company casino license. Las Vegas Sands now owns five lucrative properties in Macau.

Suen's lawyer John O'Malley, told jurors Wednesday that Suen and his company, Round Square Co., should get almost $347 million for introducing Adelson and Sands executives to key Chinese officials with influence to grant a coveted Macau gambling license.

Sands attorney Richard Sauber countered with a $3.76 million figure, accusing Suen of abandoning Adelson and Sands to find other advice in 2001— long before the Sands Macau casino opened in 2004.

Judge Rob Bare informed jurors on Thursday of the settlement and dismissed them ahead of a second day of videotaped testimony from ailing billionaire Sands chief Sheldon Adelson. Many of the 13 women and two men applauded. Trial had been expected to last until mid-April.

The company disclosed recently that Adelson, the 85-year-old board chairman, CEO and Republican national party donor is being treated for cancer and has not been at the company's Las Vegas offices for more than two months.

Because he was not expected to testify in person, jurors began seeing Adelson's testimony from trials that led to previous jury judgments against Sands of $44 million in 2008 and $70 million in 2013.

The Nevada Supreme Court upheld trial findings that Sands was liable for damages. But justices decided in 2016 that a new jury should hear more evidence before deciding an amount.

Sauber said in court Thursday the sides had reached "an amicable settlement and resolution."

Outside court, Suen attorneys O'Malley and James Jimmerson called it a fair end to the case.

"Although the dollars are confidential, we're very pleased," O'Malley told AP. "This settlement completely resolves the litigation. There will be no more appeals."

Ron Reese, spokesman for publicly traded Sands, declined to comment.

It wasn't immediately clear if financial details would be reported to federal Securities and Exchange Commission regulators.

Sands also owns the Venetian and Palazzo resorts and Sands Expo Center on the Las Vegas Strip, a resort in Singapore and one property in Pennsylvania.

Company stock closed Thursday at $59.42.

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