Sheldon and Miriam Adelson
The billionaire casino mogul who has breathed new life into Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign with millions of dollars in donations is facing a federal investigation over whether his company violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits bribing foreign officials.
The investigation stems from a lawsuit filed by a former executive at the Sands Macau in China, the company has said. Steven C. Jacobs claims he was told the keep quiet about investigations of local officials and the possible presence of the triads - Chinese organized crime - in the casino.
Sheldon Adelson, who founded and runs Las Vegas Sands Corp -- one of the largest casino and resort companies in the world, has denied the allegations in the lawsuit and said the company is cooperating with federal investigators.
Adelson has donated an estimated $10 million to Gingrich's super PAC 'Winning our Future' and promised to give up to $20 million.
Worth an estimated $21 billion, Adelson is the eighth richest man in America and has almost single-handedly financed Gingrich's second campaign surge.
The large donation has allowed Gingrich supporters to buy TV ads in key states, helping the former House Speaker to defeat Mitt Romney in the South Carolina Republican primary.
But the attention has brought Adelson's business practices into the spotlight. The lawsuit was filed in October 2010 and the company announced the federal inquiry in March of last year.
Adelson addressed the concerns at a public forum last year saying the investigation is 'not a serious matter.
When the smoke clears, I am 1,000 percent positive that there won't be any fire below it,' he said, according to ABC News.
The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice began looking into Las Vegas Sands Corp. as a result of allegations about its practices at Sands Macau casino and hotel, which operates on the Chinese island that has become the largest gambling mecca in the world, the Las Vegas Sun reported.
Jacobs, who ran the resort, says in his lawsuit that he was wrongly fired from the company after he objected to allegedly illegal actions that he was asked to perform.
Among them: Jacobs claims Adelson wanted him to hire a Chinese lawyer to dig up 'negative information' on local Macau officials that the company could use as leverage, the Sun reported.
Jacobs says he also disagreed with Adelson over increasing the casino's use of junkets -- trips to Macau by groups of high-rolling gamblers organized by third-party groups.
Some junkets in Macau have been organized by members of Chinese organized crime syndicates.
Reuters reported in 2010 that alleged triad crime boss Cheung Chi-tai, who was connected with a junket to the Sands Macau, was running one of the VIP rooms at the casino, according to witnesses.
That information came out at a trial of four men convicted of breaking a Sands dealer's arms and legs, allegedly on Chi-tai's orders, according to Reuters.
In his lawsuit, Jacobs says Adelson ordered him to keep Chi-tai's name and any information about possible triad involvement secret from the casino's board of directors.
The Las Vegas Sands Corp. has strenuously denied Jacobs' claims and says he was fired for striking unauthorized deals and violating company policy.