The longstanding legal battle between U.S. gaming giant Las Vegas Sands Corp (LVS) and Asian American Entertainment Corp Ltd (AAEC) is coming to a close, as both sides are now preparing to submit written opinions to the Macau court before a judgement is handed down.
After Seng Ioi Man, the presiding judge of the trial at the Macau Court of First Instance, spelt out the court’s decision on Tuesday about what could be proven and backed by evidence of the case, the legal representatives of LVS and AAEC — which is headed by Taiwan businessman Marshall Hao — were supposed to provide their feedback on a hearing held today (Friday).
But the session today ended abruptly in about half an hour, as the LVS side has no problem with the decision — which appears to be siding with the gaming company — while the AAEC side opted for outlining its dissents in a written format.
Mr. Hao’s firm is seeking compensation of at least US$7.5 billion (MOP60 billion) plus extra from the three affiliates of the U.S. gaming company for “maliciously” breaching their partnership in a bid for a Macau gaming licence two decades ago.
LVS, which had worked with AAEC in the beginning, later partnered with an affiliate of Galaxy Entertainment Group to successfully win a Macau gaming concession in 2002.
Judge Seng originally gave both LVS and AAEC a few hours to provide their feedback verbally on his decision on Tuesday, but later allowed both sides to do so today at the request of AAEC so that they had more time for preparation
Lawyer Jorge Menezes, who represents AAEC in the Macau case, said today there were numerous “problems” in regards to the court’s decision of the facts of the case, but they would detail their disputes in a written appeal.
The lawyer and Judge Seng then went on a slightly heated exchange, with the former claiming the court imposed “restrictions” on their expression as they could only challenge the court decision on limited grounds. “[My client] has spent 20 years seeking justice,” Mr. Menezes emphasised.
Judge Seng responded there was an established mechanism for both sides to voice their disputes, and the court had not taken entitlements and rights away from any party.
“In a court case, there will be a winner and a loser… The losing party will surely be dissatisfied with the decision,” he added.
Following an abrupt end to the hearing today, the lawsuit is now moving to the final stage — both AAEC and LVS are expected to render written submissions to the court in the coming days about the case before Judge Seng delivers a verdict.
Spelling out his decision on the proven facts of the case on Tuesday, Judge Seng concluded there was no proof showing the LVS-AAEC collaboration could successfully win a gaming concession two decades ago should they maintain their partnership.
The judge also said there was no evidence proving the tie-up between both parties extended beyond 15 January 2002. LVS has claimed its collaboration with AAEC was concluded on the said date, while Mr. Hao’s firm has argued their partnership was only terminated in early February of the same year and the U.S. gaming firm had breached their contract to reach out and work with Galaxy.
The LVS vs AAEC lawsuit was launched in the U.S. in 2007 but it was later dismissed due to the statute of limitations and procedural reasons, before lodging in Macau in 2012. AAEC was represented by Mr.- Menezes in the Macau case, while LVS and its three affiliates — namely, LVS (Nevada) International Holding Inc; Las Vegas Sands LLC; and Venetian Casino Resort, LLC — were represented by Luís Cavaleiro de Ferreira.