Ex-Las Vegas Sands CEO alleges wrongful termination in suit

The former president and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands’ Macau on Wednesday filed a breach of contract lawsuit against the Las Vegas-based gaming giant, alleging he was wrongfully terminated and is owed millions of dollars in salary, bonuses and stock options.

Steven Jacobs, who was fired in July, in court papers said there were many conflicts with Sheldon Adelson, chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corp.

The allegations paint an unflattering portrait of Adelson, claiming the casino owner made “repeated and outrageous demands” of Jacobs, despite Jacobs’ “saving the Titanic” after the economy soured in 2008.

Jacobs’ attorney, Don Campbell, wrote that Adelson told Jacobs to use “improper leverage against senior government officials of Macau” in order to obtain title to some apartments.

The lawsuit also alleges that Adelson told Jacobs to “threaten to withhold Sands China business from prominent Chinese banks unless they agreed to use influence with newly elected senior government officials of Macau in order to … obtain favorable treatment with regards to labor quotas and table limits.”

The court papers allege also allege that Adelson ordered that “secret investigations be performed regarding the business and financial affairs of various high-ranking members of the Macau government so that any negative information obtained could be used to exert ‘leverage’ in order to thwart government regulations/initiatives viewed as adverse to LVSC’s interests.”

Other alleged conflicts between Jacobs and Adelson, according to the court papers, include Adelson’s insistence that “Sands China continue to use the legal services of Macau attorney Leonel Alves “despite concerns Mr. Alves’ retention posed serious risks” linked to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Perhaps most intriguing, Jacobs in court papers alleges Adelson demanded he withhold information from the Macau property’s board of directors involving criminal triads, government investigations and even cost overruns at the resort on the South China Sea.

On July 23, Jacobs was terminated. In a terse letter from Adelson, no cause for the termination is mentioned. He was not allowed to clean out his office and was instead “escorted off the property by two members of security in public view” and left at the border.

Roughly two weeks later, according to court papers, Jacobs received a letter that explained he was terminated for cause, and was therefore ineligible to receive at least one year’s salary for severance.

Jacobs earned $1.3 million per year and was eligible for a performance-based bonus of half that amount.

According to court papers, Jacobs saved the Macau operation.

The Las Vegas Sands owns The Palazzo and Venetian hotel-casinos and the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, as well as gaming operations in Pennsylvania.

Attempts to contact the Sands Las Vegas Corp. for comment were not immediately successful.

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