Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire founder of Las Vegas Sands Corp., is too sick to testify in an upcoming court case and hasn’t been to the office since December, his attorney said.
Adelson, 85, was expected to testify in the next round of a 15-year court battle with Richard Suen, a consultant who helped the company win a license to operate casinos in Macau. Adelson’s attorney, James Jimmerson, told Nevada District Court Judge Rob Bare on Monday that the executive was to ill.
“It wasn’t until January 15 that I learned of the dire nature of Mr. Adelson’s condition, health,” Jimmerson said at a hearing. Adelson hasn’t been at the office since the third week in December, he said.
Attorneys for Suen have pressed for Adelson’s testimony. But Bare said he would grant a medical exemption if Adelson’s doctor provided sworn testimony by end of the day Thursday that the executive wasn’t well enough to do so.
“Mr. Adelson continues to fulfill his obligations as chairman and CEO,” the company said in a statement Thursday.
Adelson, typically a regular on company conference calls, missed one on Jan. 23. President Rob Goldstein described his boss as “a little bit under the weather.”
“He’s taking some medications that make him a bit drowsy,” Goldstein said at the time. “So, he decided this morning to take a rain check on this one.”
Adelson has long suffered from peripheral neuropathy, a disorder that makes it difficult for him to walk. Sands is the world’s largest casino company and its founder is worth $33.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He was the No. 1 contributor to outside spending groups in the last U.S. election, with all of his $122.3 million going to conservatives, according to OpenSecrets.org. The attorney’s comments were reported earlier Thursday by the Nevada Independent.
Adelson, his wife, Miriam, and trusts for the benefit of their children own 55 percent of Sands shares. Goldstein, with the company since 1995, signed a new contract last year that runs until 2024. Miriam’s son-in-law, Patrick Dumont, is Sands’ chief financial officer.
Suen sued the company in 2004, alleging he was owed a $5 million success fee, plus 2 percent of the net profit from the company’s Macau casinos. In 2008, he won a $59 million judgment, but that was reversed by the Nevada Supreme Court. Sands generates the bulk of its revenue and profit in Macau.
In 2013, Suen won a second trial. The jury awarded him $70 million in damages, plus $31.6 million in interest, but the Nevada Supreme Court overturned the award, citing lack of evidence to support that amount. A third trial over the damages is scheduled to start March 4.