Las Vegas Sands can’t have WSJ reporter’s data, can sell Macau condos

TAGs: Department of Justice, kate o'keefe, Las Vegas Sands, Macau, money laundering, sheldon adelson, Steve Jacobs, Wall street journal

las-vegas-sands-adelson-wsjLas Vegas Sands chairman Sheldon Adelson has lost his legal quest to obtain phone and email records from a Wall Street Journal reporter. In February, Adelson filed a libel suit against WSJ scribe Kate O’Keefe over her characterization of the crusty casino magnate as “a scrappy, foul-mouthed billionaire.” In a separate action, the scrappy, foul-mouthed billionaire filed to obtain records of O’Keefe’s communication with former Sands China CEO Steve Jacobs, with whom Adelson is locked in multiple wrongful termination and defamation suits.

Adelson believed O’Keefe had garnered much of her raw material from Jacobs, and thus Adelson claimed the right to know how much the pair had been talking about him behind his back. But on May 28, New York State Supreme Court Justice Donna Mills rejected Sands’ bid for O’Keefe’s data, saying it didn’t meet the standard for piercing New York’s journalist-protecting Shield Law. Mills said Adelson “has not shown why he is entitled to the material sought, nor the deposition he seeks under any of these criteria.” Entitled? He’s Sheldon Adelson, dammit.

A far more serious legal setback may be brewing in California. On Wednesday, Huffington Post writer Peter Stone reported that the probe by the US Attorney for Los Angeles into money laundering allegations involving Sands’ handling of two North American casino whales has gone to a grand jury. The introduction of a grand jury would allow prosecutors to issue subpoenas and call witnesses and/or targets to testify. Sands and the DOJ were reportedly close to some settlement of the issue in October, but there’s been no further word. Sands spokesperson Ron Reese would say only that Sands was cooperating with investigators. In January, Sands announced it would curtail its use of international money transfers on behalf of high-rolling clients.

This week hasn’t been a total bust on Sands’ legal front and, as usual, it’s Asia to the rescue. Macau’s government has just authorized Sands to sell shares in a Four Seasons-branded 30-storey hotel/condo development on Cotai that Sands has been trying to unload since 2009. Macau law prevents casino concessionaires from selling property, but Sands has been authorized to sell shares in the building directly adjacent to the Venetian Macau on a co-op basis. With the rights to 300 suites available, Sands estimates it could ultimately raise up to HKD6b (US $773m) from gambling whales looking for a familiar place to crash after a long night at the Venetian’s VIP baccarat tables.


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