An independent site has published emails reportedly between former Las Vegas Sands executive Steve Jacobs and outside counsel Leonel Alves. ProPublica, an independent investigative site, has got hold of a number of confidential communications from Jacobs that seems to show apprehension from certain officials. The payments are violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The documents include an earlier email that identifies Alves’ “friends” in Beijing and the payment of US$300 million that would settle their suit with Taiwanese businessman Marshall Hao.
The new emails show there are considerable worries inside LVS that the payments to Alves have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). In layman’s terms it’s a law that bars U.S. firms paying foreign officials to “affect or influence any act or decision for business gain”.
Among those worried is the company’s general counsel in Vegas, Al Gonzalez, who in an email to Jacobs in late 2009, admitted the $700k Alves was seeking “will require a lot explaining given what other firms are charging and given the FCPA”. Alves holds a number of political and governmental roles in Macau and it’s here that doubts surrounding the FCPA lie.
Reporters from the University of California’s Investigative Reporting Program as part of a collaboration with ProPublica and PBS Frontline, also obtained reams of other documents including billing reports and yet more emails.
Invoices go on to show that Alves was paid around $25,000 in March 2009 for “meetings and contacts with the Macao Government”. This was in addition to one that showed similar contact made with Macau’s chief executive at the time and the incoming Fernando Chui Sai On. There is no other confirmation anywhere else that these meetings ever ended taking place.
When the payment requests were put through, the Venetian Macau’s general counsel, Luis Melo, expressed his disquiet at being sent invoices that were “not in accordance” with what was agreed as they were 3x more than the usual amount.
It went on and a further email between Vegas counsel Gonzalez and Jacobs, quoted Gonzalez as saying: “I continue to believe this proposal to be inappropriate, unrealistic, extraordinarily expensive and way above market.”
Gonzalez later revealed that Jacobs’ belief that the FCPA counsel had no problem with the payments, which were approved, was misplaced and furthermore the FCPA counsel “did not believe it would be appropriate to pay “3x”.
The revelations are another turn in the ongoing litigious battle between Jacobs and Adelson after the former was fired way back in 2010. We’ve stated on these pages before that Jacobs must have had a damn good reason to go after Adelson considering his relative wealth.