A judge in Las Vegas has ruled that a lawsuit involving accusations of graft and organised crime ties to casinos owned by the multibillionaire and Republican party funder, Sheldon Adelson, will be heard in the US.
The decision raises the prospect of Adelson facing difficult questions about his business practices following allegations by a former chief executive of his highly profitable casinos in the Chinese enclave of Macau that a well-known triad crime figure was used to bring in high-rolling gamblers and of influence peddling with Chinese officials.
The case potentially has implications for Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands casinos because evidence of ties to criminal organisations could cost them their gaming licences.
It could also have a bearing on the 81-year-old billionaire’s considerable political influence. He is estimated to have spent $150m in a failed bid to secure a Republican victory over Barack Obama in the last presidential election and is being vigorously courted by Republican candidates in the next race.
Friday’s ruling follows a court battle earlier this month over jurisdiction in a wrongful dismissal lawsuit by the former chief executive of the Macau casinos, Steven Jacobs. He alleges that he was fired in part for blocking hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to a Macau legislator and lawyer because they may breach US anti-bribery laws. Jacobs also alleges Adelson opposed his attempts to break links to the triads.
Confronted with these claims in court, Adelson accused Jacobs of being “delusional” and claimed he was dismissed for incompetence.