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Carri Geer Thevenot

Clark County court jurisdiction at issue in Sands China lawsuit

23 April 2015

A Las Vegas judge began hearing testimony Monday to help her determine whether she has jurisdiction over Sands China Ltd. in a breach of contract case filed by Steven Jacobs, the former president of Sands Macau.

Jacobs sued Sands China and Las Vegas Sands Corp. in 2010, shortly after he was fired. He later added Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, as a defendant in the case.

“Jacobs was not terminated for cause,” according to an amended complaint filed in December. “He was terminated for blowing the whistle on improprieties and placing the interests of shareholders above those of Adelson.”

For example, the document accuses Adelson of demanding “that secret investigations be performed regarding the business and financial affairs of various high-ranking members of the Macau government so that any negative information obtained could be used to exert ‘leverage’ in order to thwart government regulations/initiatives viewed as adverse to LVSC’s interests.”

The amended complaint also includes a defamation claim against all the defendants.

“In an attempt to cover their tracks and distract from their improper activities, Adelson, LVSC and Sands China have waged a public relations campaign to smear and spread lies about Jacobs,” the document alleges.

The amended complaint argues that Clark County District Court has personal jurisdiction over the defendants and Jacobs’ claims.

According to the document, Sands China is a Cayman Islands corporation that is 70 percent owned by Las Vegas Sands, and Sands China is publicly traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

“While Sands China publicly holds itself out as being headquartered in Macau, its true headquarters are in Las Vegas, where all principle decisions are made and direction is given by executives acting for Sands China,” the document alleges.

In a brief filed before the start of this week’s hearing, attorneys for Sands China argued that Jacobs “will not be able to point to any evidence that SCL owns any property in Nevada or conducts any operations here.”

They further argued that forcing the company to defend itself against Jacobs’ claims in Nevada “would impose significant burdens” on it.

Michael Leven, the former president and chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp., began testifying Monday at the jurisdiction hearing.

His testimony is scheduled to resume Tuesday morning.

Leven, who became the interim CEO of Sands China after Jacobs was fired, said he moved from Las Vegas to Florida when he retired in December.

Attorney Todd Bice, who represents Jacobs, asked Leven whether he remembered being served with the lawsuit in October 2010 in Nevada. Leven remembered being served but did not recall the date.

Bice and Leven spent much of the afternoon reviewing emails and attachments related to Jacobs’ employment. At one point, Bice asked Leven whether an email was sent from his Las Vegas Sands account in Nevada.

“Unlike Hillary Clinton, I only have one email,” Leven joked.

In March, District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez ordered hefty sanctions against Sands China for improperly withholding documents in the case. One sanction bars the company from calling any of its own witnesses during the jurisdiction hearing.

Before testimony began Monday, Bice accused the defendants’ lawyers of trying to seal exhibits in the case to hide embarrassing details.

Attorney Randall Jones, who represents Sands China, responded by calling Jacobs an “extortionist” who is trying to blackmail his client.

“This has nothing to do with embarrassment,” Jones said. “This has to do with privacy.”