The casino company run by the principal financial backer of Newt Gingrich's presidential bid, Sheldon Adelson, has been under criminal investigation for the last year by the Department of Justice and the Securities Exchange Commission for alleged bribery of foreign officials, according to corporate documents.
In a separate civil lawsuit, a former executive of the company has alleged that Adelson ordered him to keep quiet about sensitive issues at the Sands casinos on the Chinese island of Macau, including the casinos' alleged "involvement with Chinese organized crime groups, known as Triads, connected to the junket business." The triads -- Chinese organized crime syndicates -- are allegedly involved in organizing high stakes gambling junkets for wealthy Chinese travelers.
In its filings with the SEC, Adelson's company says it became aware of the investigation in February 2011 when it received a subpoena from the SEC requesting "documents relating to its compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act." The company said it "intends to cooperate with the investigation," which it said may have been triggered by the allegations in the lawsuit by Steven C. Jacobs, a former Sands executive who says he helped run the Macau operation. The federal investigation was first reported last year by Las Vegas newspapers and the financial press.
At a gaming forum last year, Adelson said the lawsuit "is not a serious case" and that the federal investigations would find no wrongdoing. "When the smoke clears, I am 1,000 percent positive that there won't be any fire below it."
Adelson and his wife have given at least $10 million to the pro-Gingrich Super PAC "Winning our Future" and ABC News political analyst Amy Walter said the Adelsons' money "has been a major factor in keeping Newt Gingrich's campaign alive." The candidate and the Super PAC are not legally allowed to coordinate their efforts, but the political action committee's goals are unambiguous, as they finance ads supporting Gingrich and attacking his opponents.
ABC News received no response to calls and emails to the Gingrich campaign seeking comment.