As Republican presidential hopefuls line up to try and win his financial support for the 2016 elections, one of the world’s wealthiest political conservatives, Sheldon Adelson, is busy defending himself against charges of corruption over his Macau casino empire.
Steven Jacobs, the former CEO of Adelson’s Casinos, is suing for wrongful termination. Jacobs maintains that he was fired for trying to do something about the growing mob ties with Adelson’s Macau casinos and to end what he calls a growing practice of buying influence with local officials.
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A hearing was held last week in a Las Vegas court room to determine if the suit can go forward there or if it is a matter for the Chinese courts. The reason why the case could be heard in Nevada is that it deals with Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands conglomerate.
Bribery of public officials, forced prostitution and ties to Chinese organized crime are all part of the allegations leveled against Mr. Adelson. Sounds like something out of a Mario Puzo novel. Except instead of New York or Las Vegas it is China and instead of an Italian American at the center of the story, it is a Jewish one.
The case also deals with the practice of junkets held at Adelson’s casinos. A 2003 investigative report on the triads commissioned by the Las Vegas Sands and cited by The Guardian found, “The companies and individuals who operate the [VIP] rooms are either triads [Chinese gangs] or fronts for the triads, ” said the report. It added that “the triads became an ongoing presence in the Macau casinos.”
“Put simply, triad groups operating the VIP rooms are effectively able to make 5% to 10% on every dollar of chips that customer purchases. In addition, triad societies are often employed by the room operators for protection and they also provide ancillary services such as drugs, prostitution and loan sharking to patrons of the rooms, ” the report said.
Adelson did not help his own case at the hearing. He accused Jacobs of, “squealing like a pig to the government.” The magnate also accused Jacobs of attempting to blackmail him over the matter.
American authorities are also investigating the allegations and if they find against Adelson he could lose his gambling licenses.
So as the countless Republican presidential hopefuls continue to line up for the casino mogul’s blessing and financial support, the one who wins the Adelson sweepstakes may learn to regret it.
It will not look good come the general election in 2016 if the Republican nominee is dependent on funding from a man found to be not only corrupt but directly involved with organized crime.