Thu, Aug 02, 2012 - Page 15 News List

Macau investigates Sands China over privacy breach in lawsuit by ex-CEO

AP, HONG KONG

A logo of Sands Cotai Central is seen on a gaming table inside a casino on the opening day of the Sands Cotai Central, Sands’ newest integrated resort in Macau, on April 11. The Macau government has launched an investigation into Sands China, after the firm transferred documents linked to a wrongful dismissal case to the US from Macau.

Photo: Reuters

The Chinese arm of US billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s gambling empire is being investigated by Macau privacy authorities over its handling of documents related to a lawsuit by its former CEO, who claims the company has links to crime bosses and encourages prostitution as part of its business strategy.

Sands China Ltd said yesterday it was notified by Macau’s privacy watchdog that an official investigation has been launched into the alleged transfer of “certain data” from the Asian gambling city to the US.

The former CEO, Steve Jacobs, was fired in July 2010 and filed a wrongful dismissal lawsuit three months later. He accuses the company of breach of contract and pushing him into illegal activity in Macau. The suit has drawn interest from US Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission investigators for possible violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Sands China revealed no other details about the privacy investigation. The probe follows statements by Jacobs in US legal filings that Las Vegas Sands Corp, which is the parent company of Sands China, withheld documents related to his wrongful dismissal lawsuit.

Jacobs’ legal team has been seeking the documents from Las Vegas Sands, which the company’s lawyers initially said could not be moved out of Macau. However, they revealed recently that the files had been transferred in error more than a year ago, without notifying Macau or US authorities.

Macau has stringent privacy regulations that require consent and notification of authorities before personal data can be transmitted out of the territory.

A judge in the US has scheduled hearings for Aug. 30 and 31 on possible sanctions against Sands and its lawyers for failure to disclose the information to the other side.

Macau is the world’s biggest gambling market, raking in US$33.5 billion in casino revenue last year. Sands also operates casinos in Singapore as well as the Venetian and Palazzo casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, but its four Macau casinos account for the bulk of the company’s revenue.

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