GOP mega-donor’s business caught up in international scandal

GOP mega-donor's business caught up in international scandal
GOP mega-donor's business caught up in international scandal
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It’s generally difficult to keep track of the alleged misdeeds of every high-profile campaign donor, but it’s fair to say Sheldon Adelson is not just another contributor who occasionally writes sizable checks. Adelson, a billionaire casino magnate, reportedly spent close to $150 million – just in the 2012 cycle – to elect Republicans up and down the ticket.

It’s a good thing he has plenty of money remaining to hire some good attorneys to represent his company.

The Las Vegas casino company headed by high-profile Republican donor and billionaire Sheldon Adelson said it probably violated a federal law that prohibits the bribery of foreign government officials.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. said its auditors found that “there were likely violations” of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars Americans from bribing foreign officials to secure an advantage. The disclosure was made in a filing Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The apparent violations were related to business deals in China headed by company officials no longer with the firm, according to the Wall Street Journal, which quoted an unnamed source familiar with the matter.

To be sure, this is not a new story – allegations involving Sheldon’s company and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act surfaced years ago, and the company has been the subject of ongoing investigations from the SEC and the FBI.

But Sands’ concession that it “likely” violated “the books and records and internal controls provisions” of the international anti-bribery law is new.

The New York Times report fleshed out the background for those who need a refresher.

Mr. Adelson began his push into China over a decade ago, after the authorities began offering a limited number of gambling licenses in Macau, a semiautonomous archipelago in the Pearl River Delta that is the only place in the country where casino gambling is legal.

But as with many lucrative business spheres in China, the gambling industry on Macau is laced with corruption. Companies must rely on the good will of Chinese officials to secure licenses and contracts. Officials control even the flow of visitors, many of whom come on government-run junkets from the mainland.

As he maneuvered to enter Macau’s gambling market, Mr. Adelson, who is well known in the United States for his financial and political clout, became enmeshed in often intertwining political and business dealings. At one point he reportedly intervened on behalf of the Chinese government to help stall a House resolution condemning the country’s bid for the 2008 Summer Olympics on the basis of its human rights record.

Also keep in mind, a man by the name of Steven Jacobs led Sands’ operations in Macau until he was fired in 2010, at which point he began dishing quite a bit of alleged dirt – accusing Adelson’s company of extensive foreign corruption.

The impact on the Republican Party, which relied heavily on Adelson’s generosity last year, is unclear, but it can’t be helpful to have the party’s biggest donor caught up in this kind of controversy.

Sheldon Adelson

GOP mega-donor's business caught up in international scandal