-By Peter H Stone
June 5, 2013- The legal headaches besetting billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. now include a grand jury in Los Angeles, part of a federal money-laundering probe of his Nevada-based casinos, The Huffington Post has learned.
The involvement of a federal grand jury, not previously reported, suggests an escalation of the money-laundering investigation into Sands and one of its executives, being led by the U.S. attorney for Los Angeles, according to a person with direct knowledge of the inquiry. The person requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the grand jury’s work, which is not public.
Investigators are probing whether Sands broke money-laundering laws by failing to report millions in potentially questionable transfers of money several years ago by two-high rollers at its casinos. Both men have separately been charged with other crimes and one has since been sentenced to jail for accepting illegal kickbacks.
Grand juries are often used by federal prosecutors for obtaining testimony from witnesses or targets, and issuing subpoenas for documents, said lawyers specializing in white collar investigations. "You typically go to a grand jury when you’re ready for indictment, or as a strong-arm tactic" to reach a settlement, said a former federal prosecutor.
Stan Brand, a Washington defense lawyer specializing in white-collar cases, said grand jury activity "certainly means they have invested serious resources in the investigation and may at some point move to file charges."
The Wall Street Journal, in a lengthy story last summer, first disclosed that Sands was a subject of a federal money-laundering inquiry and that some of its executives were also under scrutiny. The Journal reported in October that possible settlement discussions with government officials were underway. Those talks were focused on a possible deal, which, to avoid charges, may have included a fine of $100 million or more and would've required Sands to institute new internal controls for customer deposits.