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Tim O'Reiley

Flare-ups mark Adelson's second day on stand

8 April 2013

LAS VEGAS -- The methodical, sometimes repetitious review of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson’s dealings with one-time consultant Richard Suen continued Friday in Clark County District Court, punctuated by flare-ups and an examination of the Thursday incident that led to a request for a mistrial.

Suen attorney John O’Malley started Friday by playing a deposition with Adelson from a different case. In it, Adelson recalled meeting with Caesars Entertainment Chairman and CEO Gary Loveman. During the meeting in Adelson’s Las Vegas office, he said Loveman “wanted to see if there was a way ... I could let him operate under my license (in Macau).”

While on the witness stand, Adelson has told the jury that Sands operates four lucrative properties in Macau under a sub-concession, so Suen never delivered on his promise to bring the company a gaming license in the former Portuguese colony. Suen claims a fee of $328 million for helping to guide Sands successfully through the government process there, but Sands has refused to pay because Adelson contends the company did it independently.

At one point, James Pisanelli, another Suen attorney, requested a parallel hearing to question Sands spokesman Ron Reese and a member of Adelson’s security team about why a black bag was brought to Adelson on Thursday on the witness stand. The bag contained promotional materials from trade shows Adelson once produced that he showed to the jury though they were not allowed as evidence.

Sands attorney Richard Sauber called it “ludicrous” that a 79-year-old man “in carrying his briefcase with him, that somehow suggests there is contraband of some kind in it and that the people who helped him are somehow complicit.”

Clark County District Judge Rob Bare decided not to revisit the issue but ruled that Adelson had “willfully” circumvented court rules. That could matter, Pisanelli said, should Suen appeal the verdict.

On Thursday, Bare rejected Suen’s request for a mistrial over the matter.

Adelson also complained that Suen and former Sands China President Steven Jacobs had been “smirking” at his testimony.

“You’re concerned about these smirks, sir?” O’Malley asked.

“I think they are disruptive,” Adelson said.

A few moments later, a member of the Sands team sat next to Jacobs, who has filed his own lawsuit against Sands over the way he was fired in 2010.

Questioning was halted at one point because Adelson was taking notes, an unusual practice for a witness. Bare allowed it but did not want him to simultaneously write and talk.

“I just want you to do one thing or another at one time,” Bare said.

“I think you have something in common with my wife,” Adelson replied.

“Then you are probably used to getting good advice, aren’t you?” Bare said.

Much of testimony followed the paths carved Thursday and during the first trial five years ago, when Adelson insisted that Suen had done nothing to earn his pay.

In particular, Suen did not deliver the gaming license before the Macau government deciding in October 2001 to solicit bids worldwide. Sands gained entry to Macau in February 2002 as part of a bid with Galaxy Casino Co. Ltd. Before that, casinos in Macau had been operated as a monopoly by tycoon Stanley Ho.

“Mr. Suen said as long as a monopoly doesn’t continue and there could be a license available, that he could deliver that license to me ... without any competition,” Adelson said.

But once the field was thrown open, Adelson said the Sands team crafted a winning bid without Suen’s help, based in large part on the company’s convention and meeting experience.

He said a number of dealings with Suen, including the discussion of contract terms, came at a time in the second half of 2001 when he was severely afflicted with peripheral neuropathy, which even today limits his ability to walk. As a result, Adelson estimated that he was working only about half time, with many executive duties assumed on a substitute basis by former President and Chief Operating Officer William Weidner.

O’Malley pointed to a couple of places in two Sands written proposals for Macau that highlight implied backing by central government in Beijing. Suen has said he had arranged meetings there between Adelson and Chinese officials several months before the bidding.

Adelson dismissed this as “hyperbole” that he did not know about.

Adelson is expected to finish his testimony Monday. Weidner, who was fired by Adelson four years ago, will take the stand Wednesday.