The No. 2 executive at Las Vegas Sands Corp. said Monday that he believes a corporate tempest caused by casino company chief Sheldon Adelson’s testimony about a possible breach of fiduciary responsibilities has blown over.
„It all got straightened out by the end of the day,“ said William Weidner, chairman and chief operating officer of the parent corporation of The Venetian resort.
During a break in a civil suit over Sands‘ dealings with Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen, Weidner acknowledged he met with corporate and board executives after Adelson had testified Friday.
Suen claims in a civil lawsuit being heard in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas. that he and his company were promised a USD 5 million „success fee“ and 2 percent of net casino profits to help Las Vegas Sands open its first casino in Macau. Sands maintains Suen was never hired and is owed nothing.
Responding to a question from Suen’s lawyer, Adelson denied responsibility for a letter suggesting Suen was hired to find investors and open doors to obtain a casino license in the Chinese gambling enclave.
„Weidner did it. It’s OK,“ Adelson said.
„So Mr. Weidner breached his fiduciary duties to his company as far as you understand, is that what you’re telling us?“ asked John O’Malley, lawyer for Suen and his Hong Kong company, Round Square Co.
„Yes,“ Adelson responded.
Adelson backtracked later, insisting that neither he nor Weidner violated fiduciary responsibilities. He said it would be irresponsible to hire an individual to arrange financing when Las Vegas Sands has banks and investment houses to do that job.
„The rules of good corporate governance were followed,“ Weidner said outside the courtroom Monday. „When information like that comes out, you have to make sure the concept of breach of fiduciary duty is fully investigated.“
Weidner testified Monday afternoon about initial meetings with top Chinese government officials to discuss the possibility of Sands investing in Chinese convention and tourism projects. Jurors saw photos from July 2001 showing Suen present in ceremonial meetings with Adelson, Weidner, the mayor of Beijing and other Chinese officials.
Under questioning, Weidner testified that once the subject of gambling was broached with top Chinese government officials, momentum built rapidly toward discussions about opening Las Vegas-style hotel-casino resorts in Macau.
By February 2002, Las Vegas Sands had a Macau casino sub-concession in partnership with Hong Kong-based Galaxy Entertainment. Adelson testified that his company has some USD 12 billion invested in Macau, including its two large casinos, and has plans for about 10 more casino properties.
If the jury decides Suen was hired, the deal could be worth millions. Las Vegas Sands reported USD 10.3 billion in revenue last year from the Sands Macao, which opened in 2004, and the Venetian Macao, which opened in August 2007. The company also owns the Palazzo hotel and adjacent Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas.
Weidner is due to return to the witness stand Tuesday. The civil trial is expected to take at least a week.