BY IAN MYLCHREEST -- Las Vegas Sands lost for the second time on Tuesday when a Clark County jury awarded Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen $70 million. The case turned on whether or not Suen had helped Sands win a casino license in the Chinese enclave of Macau.
Suen claimed he was owed $5 million plus 2 percent of profits. When he took the stand, Sands CEO and Chairman Sheldon Adelson painted Suen as a failed businessman and “really kind of a dunce,” says Associated Press Reporter Hannah Dreier in an interview with Nevada Public Radio. Adelson testified that he had merely been doing his brother a favor when he met with Suen.
The businessman’s attorneys argued, however, that their client had a written contract for his consulting work. But even if Suen’s contract was too vague, they argued, he had clearly worked for the company to win the license and deserved some kind of compensation. The jury, says Dreier, went with that second argument.
The jury also had to consider how important personal relationships (or “guanxi” as it’s known in Mandarin) are in Chinese business. Suen claimed he held had two meetings with a Vice Premier and another meeting with the mayor of Beijing. Sands rejected those as insignificant, noting that Macanese authorities had made their decision independently.
Despite the two trial losses, Dreier says, a Sands appeal is inevitable. Despite being grilled on the stand for three days in the latest trial, Dreier says, “You’ve got to think (Adelson) doesn’t mind if he’s coming back for another shot at it.”