Alleged ties to Chinese organized crime may mean serious legal problems for American casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, the Guardian website reported on Sunday.
Adelson owns the Israel Hayom newspaper in Israel and is a key supporter of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Suspicions of bribery and ties to organized crime emerged last week during Adelson’s four days of testimony before a Las Vegas court in a wrongful dismissal suit.
Steven Jacobs, former CEO of Adelson’s highly profitable casinos in the Chinese enclave of Macau, is suing Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands conglomerate, claiming that he was sacked for trying to break links to organized crime groups, the triads, and for attempting to halt alleged influence peddling with Chinese officials.
Far from laying the allegations to rest, the Guardian wrote, “the billionaire’s answers threw up yet more questions which he is likely to have to return to court to answer.”
Information from Jacobs prompted investigations by the United States Justice Department and federal financial regulators. If the allegations are shown to be true, Adelson’s gambling licenses could be in jeopardy.
The Las Vegas court hearing was called to decide whether the full case should be heard in the U.S. or in Macau. If the judge rules that the case belongs in an American court, Adelson will face some difficult questions raised by his testimony, the Guardian wrote.
Many of the allegations concern the Hong Kong-born leader of the Wo Hop To triad Cheung Chi Tai, who is barred from entering the U.S. due to his “affiliation to organized crime.”
Adelson repeatedly told the court that his company “was not doing business” with Cheung, testimony that directly contradicted the evidence of his own deputy on the witness stand.
A Sands internal document indicated that Cheung was admitted to the casino’s exclusive Chairman’s Club, which normally comes with a personal letter from Adelson. Among the benefits are “extremely large lines of credit,” according to court records filed by Jacobs.
Las Vegas Sands finally broke with Cheung in 2010 following a Reuters report identifying his triad links.
In any future trial, he is likely to face questions as to why Las Vegas Sands waited until the Reuters report to act when Jacobs has said in court submissions that “those ties were well known to … Adelson, well before the Reuters’ article.”