Las Vegas Sands investigated by HK regulator

AP News
Posted: Mar 31, 2011 3:54 AM
Las Vegas Sands investigated by HK regulator

A Macau casino operator controlled by U.S. billionaire Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corp. said Thursday it's being investigated by Hong Kong financial regulators.

Sands China Ltd. said it's being probed over "alleged breaches" of financial regulations by the city's Securities and Futures Commission, which has asked for "certain documents." It said it was "not permitted to comment further at this time."

It made the announcement in a brief statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange, where its shares are traded.

Sands China is one of six companies licensed to operate casinos in Macau, the world's most lucrative gambling market.

Earlier this month, Las Vegas Sands said it had received a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission and is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice over allegations made by a former executive.

It's unclear if the Hong Kong investigation is related to the U.S. probe.

Las Vegas Sands said in a regulatory filing that it received the SEC subpoena on Feb. 9. The subpoena requests documents relating to Las Vegas Sands' compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The casino operator said it believes the subpoena was prompted by allegations made in a lawsuit filed last fall by former Sands China CEO Steve Jacobs.

Las Vegas Sands said it plans to cooperate with the investigations and vigorously defend itself against Jacobs' lawsuit. Jacobs alleges breach of contract, among other things, in the suit filed in October and is seeking unspecified damages.

Jacobs has accused the company and CEO Adelson of demanding he engage in illegal activity. Sands has said Jacobs was fired for making unauthorized deals and violating company policy.

Sands China operates owns the Venetian Macao, Sands Macao and Four Seasons Hotel Macao.

Sands China shares fell 6 percent to $17.30 Hong Kong dollars by late afternoon.