The former chief executive of Las Vegas Sands Corp.'s Macau subsidiary amended his wrongful termination lawsuit against the company Wednesday to include a defamation of character charge after the company's chairman told the Wall Street Journal the ex-employee was "using outright lies and fabrications" to explain his departure.
A day after a Clark County District Court judge said she wouldn't dismiss the lawsuit filed in October by Steven Jacobs against Las Vegas Sands and Sands China subsidiary, his attorney added the defamation charge and included company Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson as a defendant.
Jacobs oversaw the company's three-resort operations in Macau for much of 2009 until last summer, when he was fired.
Allegations raised in Jacobs' lawsuit have caused the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice to open investigations of Las Vegas Sands for possible violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
After Tuesday's hearing, Adelson, in his first public comments on the case, told the Wall Street Journal that he wanted to address "the recycling of his allegations."
In comments posted on the newspaper's website, Adelson said "We have a substantial list of reasons why Steve Jacobs was fired for cause, and interestingly, he has not refuted a single one of them. Instead, he has attempted to explain his termination by using outright lies and fabrications, which seem to have their origins in delusion."
In the amended complaint, Las Vegas attorney Donald Campbell wrote that "the offending comments made by Adelson" were false and defamatory, distributed worldwide, were malicious, and intended to harm Jacobs' reputation.
Sands spokesman Ron Reese said Adelson's comments "speak for themselves and no further explanation is necessary."
The legal battle has drawn the interest of Wall Street. Analysts are fearful the SEC and justice department investigations could weigh down the stock price of Las Vegas Sands on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares have declined about 25 percent in value since the investigations were revealed.
The company operates casinos in Las Vegas, Macau, Singapore, and Pennsylvania and is looking into other expansion opportunities.
Jacobs has alleged Adelson wanted him to use "improper leverage" against unnamed senior officials of the Macau government to help the company secure rights to sell apartments at its Four Seasons Macau.
He also said in court documents that Adelson wanted him to employ a Macau attorney who held a government position. Jacobs says he objected over concerns that the move could violate the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars companies from paying bribes to foreign officials to secure business advantage.
District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez ruled Tuesday that Clark County was proper jurisdiction for the lawsuit and rejected a request to remove Sands China as a defendant.
Contact reporter Howard Stutz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3871.