Las Vegas Sands pays $9m penalty to resolve SEC case

By Gareth Bracken
Casino operator Las Vegas Sands has paid a $9m penalty to settle a case relating to its business activities in Macau and China.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has closed its investigation into the company after more than five years.

The investigation found that LVS kept inaccurate books and records and frequently lacked supporting documentation or proper approvals for more than $62m in payments to a consultant in Asia between 2006 and 2011.

It said the consultant acted as an intermediary to obscure the company’s role in certain business transactions such as the purchases of a basketball team and a building in China, where casino gambling isn’t permitted.

The SEC made no finding of corrupt intent or bribery by Las Vegas Sands and the company neither admitted nor denied any of the SEC findings.

The administrative order from the SEC includes a $9m penalty and an agreement from Sands to retain an independent compliance consultant for a period of two years.

Since its receipt of a 9 February 2011 subpoena from the SEC, Sands has maintained its belief that the investigation was the result of allegations made in an employment lawsuit filed by former executive Steve Jacobs.

"We are pleased to have the matter resolved," said Las Vegas Sands Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sheldon Adelson.

"We will build on this experience, which has re-emphasized to our 50,000 team members worldwide the same values I have made the foundation of my seven decades in business – integrity and reputation matter."

The firm said that at the time of the events in question, its compliance function was shared with its legal function, but that it now operates as a free-standing function with "enhanced financial controls, an independent global controller, a larger internal audit program, and a newly created board compliance committee, which is in addition to the existing oversight functions of the board's audit committee".
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