《華 爾街日報》(The Wall Street Journal)見到的電子郵件顯示﹐這位顧問稱﹐“北京方面某高層”與他進行了接觸﹐提議金沙集團支付三億美元﹐讓澳門一處豪華公寓綜合體的出售計劃贏 得期待已久的政府審批並和解一樁有爭議的訴訟案。金沙集團對該公寓綜合體的估值為14億美元。
2011 年3月份﹐總部位於美國的金沙集團披露﹐美國證券交易委員會(Securities and Exchange Commission)和美國司法部(Justice Department)正在調查其是否違反了一項有關禁止海外賄賂的美國法律。證交委和司法部拒絕置評。該公司曾表示正在配合調查。金沙集團在紐約證交所 (New York Stock Exchange)掛牌上市﹐其掌門人為億萬富翁蕭登•艾德森(Sheldon Adelson)。
博 彩公司為贏得澳門項目的審批可謂費盡週折。去年﹐金沙集團的競爭對手永利度假(Wynn Resorts Ltd.)做出了一項頗受爭議的舉動﹐該公司承諾向澳門大學(University of Macau)捐款1.35億美元。之前﹐永利度假為獲得在澳門興建一家大型賭場的許可而等待了多年。永利度假2月份稱﹐證交委已開始對這筆捐款進行調查。 該公司稱﹐捐款之舉並無不妥﹔該公司的項目於5月份通過了審批。
歐安利的名字出現在美國海外賄賂調查以及金沙集團澳門子公司前負責人翟國成(Steve Jacobs)向內華達州克拉克縣(Clark County)法院提起的金沙集團不當解聘訴訟案中。金沙集團已經表示﹐美國海外賄賂調查中的部分內容與這項訴訟案相同。
來 自歐安利的電子郵件日期覆蓋2009年最後幾個月﹐當時全球金融危機和中國大陸公民赴澳門旅行的通行限制（金沙集團有超過半數的收入來自澳門市場）對金沙 集團構成了巨大壓力。當年金沙集團股票較2007年峰值下跌了約99%﹐為避免違反債務契約﹐該公司被迫通過發行債券和股票籌集數十億資金。艾德森當時為 該公司進行了注資。
金沙集團當時已經宣佈澳門子公司在香港證交所(Hong Kong Stock Exchange)進行首次公開募股(IPO)的計劃。據一位瞭解該公司戰略的人士透露﹐為提升IPO價值﹐公司當時迫切希望監管機構批准其出售建在澳門 威尼斯人度假村酒店(Venetian Macao)旁邊的四季(Four Seasons)公寓。但由於該地塊被指定為賭場和酒店項目用地﹐要想出售這些有望帶來豐厚利潤的資產需要通過政府審批。
在 日期為2009年9月30日的電子郵件中﹐歐安利告訴翟國成﹐他在北京參加中華人民共和國成立60週年慶典﹐“北京方面的高層”邀請他來解決這兩件事情。 歐安利寫道﹐“他想讓我跟艾德森溝通﹐儘快就訴訟案達成協議。他同時還告訴我﹐有一種方法可以讓我們獲準出售酒店式公寓。”
據 一位瞭解會面情況的人士稱﹐2009年10月4日和10月30日﹐歐安利在澳門的財神酒店(Hotel Fortuna)與郝皙生以及幾名合作伙伴會面﹐討論付給郝皙生1億美元﹐就他提起的訴訟達成和解。這位知情人士稱﹐作為交易的一部分﹐澳門政府高級官員 將確保金沙集團獲準出售公寓。
金 沙集團仍在等待政府告知其能否出售公寓﹐不過一些分析師預計﹐該公司很快就能聽到好消息。永利度假和另一家賭場運營商新濠博亞娛樂有限公司(Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd.)近期稱﹐政府已明確表示﹐不希望它們像金沙集團那樣推進公寓出售計劃。
Toward the end of 2009, casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp., struggling under $11 billion of debt and strapped for cash as the weak economy ravaged its business, received a surprising offer that could have relieved some of its woes.
The offer came in emails from an outside legal adviser with political connections in China and Macau, the world's biggest gambling market, where the company's local unit was going public.
The adviser said he was approached by 'someone high ranking in Beijing' who proposed that Las Vegas Sands pay $300 million to win long-awaited government approval to sell a luxury-apartment complex in Macau and to settle a contentious lawsuit, according to emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The company has valued the apartment complex at $1.4 billion.
These days, Las Vegas Sands is flourishing, buoyed by Asia's gambling boom. But the emailed offer underscores how high -- and dangerous -- the stakes are for U.S. companies whose fortunes depend on Macau's lucrative casino market, which last year raked in more than five times as much gambling revenue as the Las Vegas Strip and is tightly controlled by the government.
While it wouldn't comment specifically on the emails, Las Vegas Sands said in a statement that 'at no time has there ever been any suggestion that the company made any improper payments or received any improper benefits.'
The government of Macau, the only place in China where casino gambling is legal, declined to comment. The Chinese government didn't respond to requests for comment.
In March 2011, U.S.-based Las Vegas Sands disclosed that the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department were investigating whether it had violated a U.S. law prohibiting foreign bribery. The agencies declined to comment. The company, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and controlled by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, has said it is cooperating with the probes.
Casino companies have struggled to gain approval for Macau projects. Last year, rival Wynn Resorts Ltd. made a controversial pledge to donate $135 million to the University of Macau after waiting years for clearance to build a major casino in the enclave. Wynn Resorts said in February that the SEC had begun an inquiry into the donation. The company said there was no impropriety involved; its project was approved in May.
The deal proposed to Las Vegas Sands was made in emails sent by attorney Leonel Alves, the company's outside legal adviser. Las Vegas Sands hired Mr. Alves, a Macau legislator and a member of both the Chinese and Macau governments' top political advisory bodies, to be a conduit to government officials, said people familiar with its Macau operations.
Mr. Alves said in a text message that any claims that he suggested bribing government officials were 'totally untrue,' and that 'nothing had happened.'
Mr. Alves's name has surfaced in both the U.S. foreign-bribery investigation and in a wrongful-termination lawsuit against Las Vegas Sands filed in Clark County court in Nevada by Steve Jacobs, the former head of the company's Macau unit. Las Vegas Sands has said some parts of the U.S. investigation overlap with the lawsuit.
In his suit, which is still pending, Mr. Jacobs said he had warned company officials that Mr. Alves's employment 'posed serious risks' to Las Vegas Sands because of a U.S. law barring U.S. companies from bribing foreign officials.
Las Vegas Sands fired Mr. Jacobs in July 2010. Mr. Alves, who had parted from the company amid disputes earlier that year, according to a top company executive, was rehired weeks after Mr. Jacobs's dismissal. Mr. Jacobs's lawsuit alleges that Mr. Adelson, the company's chairman and chief executive, demanded that it continue to use Mr. Alves.
In its statement, the company called Mr. Jacobs 'a disgruntled former employee,' adding that 'the allegations raised as part of that litigation will be debunked.'
Amid the U.S. probe, Las Vegas Sands has ordered employees to keep 'all documents' concerning Mr. Alves, according to an internal memo reviewed by the Journal. The memo closely matches a subpoena sent by the SEC, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The emails from Mr. Alves, which cover the last few months of 2009, arrived as Las Vegas Sands was under intense pressure from the global financial crisis and Chinese visa restrictions that had made it harder for the mainland's citizens to visit Macau, the source of more than half the company's revenue. The company's shares plunged that year by as much as 99% from their 2007 peak, and it had been forced to raise billions by selling bonds and shares to avoid violating debt covenants. Mr. Adelson had provided cash infusions.
Las Vegas Sands, which had announced plans for an initial public offering of its Macau unit on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, was particularly eager at the time for permission to sell the Four Seasons-branded apartments it had built next to its Venetian Macao casino-resort to boost the IPO's value, said a person familiar with its strategy. But it needed government approval for the potentially lucrative sale because the land had been designated for casino and hotel projects only.
Meanwhile, Las Vegas Sands was fighting a lawsuit by Taiwanese businessman Marshall Hao, a former partner who accused it of improperly terminating a 2001 agreement to make a joint bid for a Macau casino license. The suit, originally filed in the U.S., was refiled in Macau, where it is still pending.
In an email dated Sept. 30, 2009, Mr. Alves told Mr. Jacobs he was in Beijing to attend the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China and that 'someone high ranking in Beijing' invited him to settle the two issues. 'He wants me to talk to Mr. Adelson and find an agreement, ASAP, for the lawsuit,' the email said. 'At the same time,' Mr. Alves wrote, 'he told me that there is a way to get the necessary permissions to allow the sale of the serviced-apartments.'
Mr. Alves added: 'There is an amount to be agreed by Mr. Adelson in order to settle the two issues. The amount to be paid to resolve the serviced-apartments issue shall be paid to a muttually [sic] accepted escrow agent and delivered to the gentlemen upon the official approval.'
On Oct. 4 and Oct. 30, 2009, Mr. Alves met with Mr. Hao and several associates at the Hotel Fortuna in Macau to discuss a deal in which Mr. Hao would receive $100 million to settle his lawsuit, according to a person with knowledge of the meetings. As part of the deal, senior Macau government officials would ensure Las Vegas Sands won approval to sell the apartments, this person said.
On Dec. 10, 2009, Mr. Alves sent another email to Mr. Jacobs, saying he was returning to Beijing the following day and would have a chance to talk with his 'friends' there. 'However, what they request is extremely expensive (US$300 million, which includes the closing of the Taiwanese case),' the email said.
Las Vegas Sands is still waiting to hear whether it can sell the apartments, though some analysts expect it to get favorable word soon. Wynn and fellow casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. recently said that the government had made clear it didn't want them to pursue plans to sell apartments similar to those built by Las Vegas Sands.