A story published jointly today by ProPublica and PBS' Frontline said internal documents show that Las Vegas Sands boss Sheldon Adelson 'instructed a top executive to pay about $700,000 in legal fees to Leonel Alves, a Macau legislator whose [law] firm was serving as an outside counsel to Las Vegas Sands.'
The story was written by Matt Isaacs, Lowell Bergman, and Stephen Engelberg.
They said the Sands' general counsel and an outside law firm 'warned that the arrangement could violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.'
'It is unknown whether Adelson was aware of these warnings,' they said.
Adelson is now worth about $25 billion, according to the story. His wealth jumped after he won licenses to build casinos in Macau.
In an internal email linked to the story, the Sands' general counsel in 2009 wrote: 'I understand that what [Alves' firm] are seeking is approx $700k. If correct, that will require a lot of explaining given what our other firms are charging and given the FCPA.'
The story said Alves is a member of the Macau legislature. He also sits on a 10-member council that advises Macau's chief executive, and on the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, a group that advises the Chinese government.
Las Vegas Sands Corp disclosed in March last year a U.S. investigation into possible FCPA violations. It said it received a subpoena in February 2011 from the Securities and Exchange Commission 'requesting documents relating to its compliance with the the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.' The DOJ, it said, 'is conducting a similar investigation.'
Those agencies haven't commented.
The Sands said the investigations were probably triggered by an inside whistleblower identified as Steven C. Jacobs, the former CEO of Sands China Ltd.