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Gaming Guru

Tim O'Reiley

Judge orders Las Vegas Sands to comply

19 December 2012

LAS VEGAS -- Less than four months after Las Vegas Sands Corp. was fined for misusing Macau data laws in local courts, the company and its former top executive in the region are wrestling over the issue again.

Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez ordered on Tuesday that the gaming giant's Sands China Ltd. subsidiary turn over "all information in their possession that is relevant" to where the case should be heard.

Two years ago, former Sands China CEO Steven Jacobs filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the company, but it still has not been determined whether a trial will occur in Las Vegas or Macau.

An attempt by Jacobs to have another round of sanctions imposed was put off by Gonzalez at least until January if Sands does not comply with the latest deadline.

"We don't believe the need has been spelled out by (Jacobs) as to why they need to go beyond the Macau [documents] of Mr. Jacobs," said Sands attorney J. Randall Jones.

Last year, Jacobs requested about 100,000 electronic documents, mostly e-mails, to show that Sands China was effectively controlled from Las Vegas, allowing his lawsuit to go forward here.

Already, according to Sands court papers, the company has turned over more than 168,000 pages of materials, "an enormous undertaking that has cost more than $2.3 million."

Jacobs attorney James Pisanelli countered that only 15 documents covering 50 pages had been relinquished.

"What is the theme today?" he said in describing Sands' argument. "Your Honor, the Macau Personal Data [Protection] Act prevents us from producing these records."

Starting in mid-2011, Sands attorneys cited the law as the reason it could not turn over Jacobs' records because of questions about how it worked. In June, however, the company admitted that a hard drive containing the material was shipped to Las Vegas even before that legal defense was erected. Sands attorneys in Las Vegas knew about the hard drive, even as they argued that it still came under the umbrella of Macau law.

For deceiving the court, Gonzalez imposed a $25,000 fine on Sands, to cover Jacobs' legal costs pertaining to the issue and certain limitations on how Sands could conduct its case.

Gonzalez turned down a plan by Sands to bring two video cameras to a deposition scheduled for Tuesday, one focused on the witness and the other on a Jacobs attorney. She noted that Nevada's long-standing practice called for only one camera.

Sands attorneys wanted the extra camera because of "our concerns over the conduct of certain attendees" at the deposition earlier this year of Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. But Jacobs attorneys branded the extra camera as an attempt at intimidation.