FORMER Macau CEO Steven Jacobs, who is waging a legal battle with Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and its Macau unit over his alleged wrongful termination and unpaid stock options, is now accused of stealing massive amounts of confidential company data and refusing to return them.
This week's filing by LVS is the latest twist in a case that has seen the Nevada Supreme Court ordering a state court judge to reconsider whether Macau casino operator Sands China should be sued in Nevada.
In arguing for the case to be dismissed in Nevada, Sands China claimed discovery proceedings would be time-consuming and costly because of Macau's strict privacy laws.
But lawyers for Mr Jacobs argued Sands China is controlled by LVS chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson from Las Vegas and that the Macau casino operator's executives regularly did business in Las Vegas.
Mr Jacobs sued LVS last year alleging he was fired for refusing to carry out Mr Adelson's 'improper and illegal demands' - allegations that have since triggered a series of government probes by US and Hong Kong regulators.
But LVS disagreed, saying Mr Jacobs was fired because he overstepped his authority, violated company policy and made unauthorised deals.
In court documents filed earlier this week, LVS accused Mr Jacobs of stealing a 'large cache of data obtained through his employment'. The information includes 'attorney-client privileged documents, proprietary information, trade secrets, sensitive financial documents and other confidential commercial information relating to gaming operations'.
'Las Vegas Sands' suspicions were borne out recently when plaintiff's counsel revealed and explicitly admitted that Jacobs had in his possession approximately 11 gigabytes of documents taken from Las Vegas Sands, Sands China and/or Venetian Macau, including documents that Jacobs admitted were subject to the attorney-client privilege and should properly be returned to Las Vegas Sands,' LVS said in court documents.
'After initially agreeing to produce certain potentially privileged documents, Jacobs now refuses to return any documents to Las Vegas Sands,' it said.
In arguing for the documents to be returned, LVS said it has 'serious concerns that Jacobs will disclose company documents that contain personal data in violation of Macau law. The Macau Personal Data Protection Act provides for serious sanctions in such circumstances'.
'Any such sanctions could be financially devastating to Las Vegas Sands, as a substantial portion of Las Vegas Sands' revenue is derived from its ownership interest in Sands China Ltd,' according to the filing.
Yet, Mr Jacobs believes that Macanese data privacy laws are being 'used by (LVS) in this matter as a 'farcical canard' to avoid disclosure of documents', Justin Jones, an LVS lawyer, said in an Aug 2 letter to Mr Jacobs' lawyer.
Colby Williams, a lawyer for Mr Jacobs, disputed LVS's claim. 'This statement is accurate to the extent it reflects our position that the Macau data privacy laws do not prevent any of the parties from producing documents in this action,' he said.
'It has been our experience that wrongfully terminated corporate executives are often - and properly - in possession of a multitude of documents received during the ordinary course of their employment. That does not mean the documents were 'stolen',' Donald Campbell, another lawyer for Mr Jacobs, said.