Lloyd Nathan (pictured right), CEO of Vancouver-based casino developer Asian Coast Development Ltd. (ACDL), has filed a lawsuit against the company for trying to force him out of the job. (It’s going around.) Nathan claims he tried to resign in October but ACDL induced him to stick around. On April 5, one day after the company’s casino investment certificate was restored by the Vietnamese government, ACDL told Nathan he’d engaged in conduct unbecoming and placed him on administrative leave. Nathan claims ACDL acted “without any basis for doing so.”
Nathan believes he was used as window dressing to project an aura of stability while Vietnam considered whether to kill off ACDL’s troubled casino project on the Ho Stram Strip, 127km southeast of Ho Chi Minh City. Construction delays on the 164-hectare beachfront resort led to ACDL missing development benchmarks, which led Vietnamese authorities to yank ACDL’s certificate – gaming license and all – in late 2012. Vietnamese banks promptly turned off the money taps, and mild panic ensued.
By February, American casino operator Pinnacle Entertainment, which holds a 23% stake in ACDL, had written off $25m of its $110m investment. In March, MGM Resorts walked away from its deal to manage the Ho Tram facility, saying ACDL hadn’t lived up to its contractual obligations. On April 4, Vietnam restored the certificate and ACDL’s skid was halted, but Nathan was eased out the door before the champagne stopped flowing. In addition to ACDL, Nathan is suing Philip Falcone, the hedge fund billionaire behind ACDL’s majority owner Harbinger Capital Partners, and Pinnacle boss Anthony Sanfilippo.
Elsewhere in Vietnam, police in Ho Chi Minh City are trying to figure out how a colonel’s hat ended up in an illegal gambling den. The mystery began when police received a tipoff about a gambling operation just down the street from a militia station in Tan Phu District. Last week, police raided the place, breaking through some second floor windows and catching 25 people playing even-odd dice game xoc dia. But they also found an empty safe and an open escape hole in the building’s roof, suggesting someone got out in the nick of time. According to Thanh Nien News, none of those arrested copped to any knowledge of how the hat got there, although the den organizer helpfully suggested that it could belong to a gambler who left it behind on his way out, presumably, in some hurry. Police are now trying to determine (a) if the local officers were protecting the den, and (b) which one of their colonels looks conspicuously bareheaded.