Las Vegas Sands To Pay $9 Million For FCPA Violations In Macau
Las Vegas Sands Corp will be paying a fine of $9 million to settle allegations by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) which filed a lawsuit against the Sands Corp stating that the company violated accounting norms and controls in its casino operations in Macau and China.
The casino operator has four casinos and a number of hotels in Macau which contribute majorly towards the overall revenues of the group.
The SEC started the probe into Sands’ operations in Macau five years ago and found that the company had failed to implement a number of internal controls.
According to allegations filed by the SEC, the company had hired a consultant to act as a front for a few of its business dealings, paying close to US$62 million for this service but failed to properly document or authorize the payments. The consultant had acted on behalf of Las Vegas Sands to purchase a Chinese basketball team to play in one of its Macau casinos because the Chinese Basketball Association disallows gambling companies from owning its franchises.
The SEC found that some of the payments made by the company to the consultant were recorded as bank charges and loans and also concluded that the company could not provide an adequate explanation for a portion of payments that were recorded as part of the deal.
Similarly the consultant was also used to buy a large building in Beijing which was supposed to be turned into a men’s club and opened in time for the Olympic Games in 2008. The SEC found the deal to be suspicious since Las Vegas Sands did not conduct any research before the purchase and wrongly categorized related expenses as arts and crafts. The project was subsequently shelved.
Las Vegas Sands has decided to pay $9 million in a settlement without agreeing or denying the allegations that were filed by SEC. Commenting on the settlement, Las Vegas Sands said that it had not sufficiently monitored company managers who had handled these dealings with the consultant. The company added that it has received a refund of $44 million from the consultant as a part of a settlement.
The company had acknowledged earlier in its annual report in 2012 that it might have violated the regulations under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) which bars bribery in other countries. As a part of its settlement with SEC, Las Vegas Sands has agreed to allow an independent consultant to review its FCPA-related internal controls, policies and procedures for a period of two years.
In a statement, Sheldon Adelson said
We understand that running an industry-leading compliance operation takes time, resources and the full support of senior management. I’m proud to say our company has exactly that
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