Democratic group retracts claims about Adelson

Las Vegas Sands the target of US money-laundering probe, ‘Journal’ reports; no indications that CEO under investigation.

By REUTERS
August 6, 2012 02:30
2 minute read.
Sheldon Adelson

Sheldon Adelson 370. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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CHICAGO – The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee retracted statements it made linking Las Vegas Sands chief executive Sheldon Adelson with funds it said came from “Chinese prostitution money” that had been contributed to Republican congressional candidates.

“In press statements issued on June 29 and July 2, 2012, the DCCC made unsubstantiated allegations that attacked Sheldon Adelson, a supporter of the opposing party,” the Democratic committee said in a statement over the weekend.

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“This was wrong. The statements were untrue and unfair, and we retract them.”

The allegations came from a filing in the Nevada state court in which Steven Jacobs, the former president of Sands China Ltd, alleged wrongful termination and asserted that he had seen documents in which Adelson “personally approved” what he called “a prostitution strategy” at the company’s casino operation in the Chinese special administrative region of Macau.

In a July 16 letter to the DCCC, attorneys for Adelson, 78, demanded that the committee retract the allegations and apologize to Adelson.

On July 20, Adelson filed suit in a Florida state court, claiming defamation against Jacobs and seeking unspecified damages for statements that his suit said “impugn Mr. Adelson’s integrity and harm his reputation.”

The billionaire businessman is a major contributor to Republican candidates and is the largest individual donor to presumed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. He and his wife, Miriam, contributed $10 million to a political action committee that backs Romney, and he hosted a fund-raising breakfast for the candidate during his visit to Israel last week.

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District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez has scheduled an August 30 hearing to decide whether Las Vegas Sands Corp. withheld financial documents in the wrongful termination case brought by Jacobs.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. is the target of a federal investigation into possible violations of US money laundering laws.

The Los Angeles branch of the US Attorney’s Office is looking into the casino company’s handling of the receipt of millions of dollars from a Mexican businessman, later indicted in the United States for drug trafficking, and a former California businessman, later convicted of taking illegal kickbacks, the Journal said, citing lawyers and others involved in the matter.

The transactions date from the mid-2000s.

The Journal said there are no indications that actions by Adelson, who is the company’s chief executive officer and largest shareholder, are being investigated.

The Los Angeles US attorney could not be reached for comment by Reuters. A Sands spokesman was not immediately available to comment to Reuters, but spokesman Ron Reese told the Journal, “The company believes it has acted properly and has not committed any wrongdoing.”

Reese said the company was cooperating with federal investigators.

The timing of the investigation could open the Justice Department to criticism that it is politically motivated, the Journal said.

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