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U.S. casino mogul Sheldon Adelson was more assertive during a second day of testimony in a breach of contract case over business deals in China.
Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen is suing Las Vegas Sands for $328 million he says he is owed for helping the company win a gambling license in the Chinese enclave of Macau. The company says it won the license on its own.
Adelson, the company's CEO, sparred with Suen's attorney on Friday, prompting several reprimands from the judge. On Thursday, the 79-year-old Adelson had appeared to enjoy himself, joking as he answered questions about how Sands won entry into Macau, now the world's top gambling market, in the early 2000s.
On Friday, Adelson - the ninth-richest person in the U.S., according to Forbes- glowered and claimed ignorance of letters and meetings appearing to show the makings of a deal with Suen.
He portrayed himself as a hands-off manager who allowed others to edit his correspondence, sign his name and make executive decisions for him. Among other things, he cited the effects of a rare nerve illness, peripheral neuropathy, which first struck him in 2000.
"Once I got sick, I couldn't pay attention to anything. It was an extremely difficult period of my life," Adelson said. The company ultimately partnered with Hong Kong-based Galaxy Entertainment in 2002 to apply for one of three available gambling licenses. Galaxy was awarded a license, but Adelson said the two companies could not reach an agreement, in part because of Galaxy's ties to triads, or Chinese gangs.
Macau then awarded Las Vegas Sands a sublicense, a decision that Suen's lawyers said was a result of Suen's earlier lobbying. Sands now derives 60 percent of its profits from Macau, where it owns four casinos. The company also operates the Venetian and Palazzo casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. Adelson returns to the witness stand on Monday.