April 7 (Reuters) Las Vegas Sands Corp concurred to pay $9 million to end the United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s more than five-year probe into whether it violated a federal anti-bribery law by paying a consultant in order to help it do business in China and Macau.
Thursday’s civil settlement deals with charges that the gambling establishment operator run by billionaire Sheldon Adelson broke the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by failing to correctly license or record more than $62 million of payments to the consultant, understood within the company as a “beard,” in between 2006 and 2011.
The SEC stated the specialist acted as a middleman to Las Vegas Sands’ effort to purchase a group in the Chinese Basketball Association, which forbade video gaming companies from ownership, and part of a Beijing structure in spite of China’s casino gaming ban.
Las Vegas Sands also cannot properly document some transactions including its Macau operations, the SEC said.
Openly traded business such as Las Vegas Sands “need to have suitable monetary controls in place to guarantee that costs are spent for authentic services,” Andrew Ceresney, head of the SEC enforcement department, said in a statement.
Las Vegas Sands consented to hire an independent compliance specialist for two years as part of the settlement.
The business did not admit or reject wrongdoing, and stated the SEC did not discover it had corrupt intent or committed bribery.
Las Vegas Sands said the SEC probe stemmed from a breach-of-contract claim by Steve Jacobs, who when led its Sands China system, however that his allegations formed no basis for the regulatory authority’s findings.
It likewise stated the SEC findings followed those previously discovered Las Vegas Sands’ audit committee. The $9 million penalty represents less than 2 days of earnings.
In a statement, Adelson said Las Vegas Sands was pleased to settle, and is dedicated to a “world class” compliance program.
Adelson, 82, was not charged with or charged of misdeed. He is worth $28.1 billion according to Forbes magazine, and is a major donor to Republican political candidates.
Las Vegas Sands’ properties consist of the Venetian and the Palazzo Las Vegas, the Venetian and the 4 Seasons in Macau, and the Marina Sands in Singapore, among others.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New york city; Added reporting by Arathy Nair in Bengaluru; Modifying by David Gregorio and Jonathan Oatis)
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