In California, a group of Chinese nationals have filed a lawsuit against Stockbridge Capital Group over allegations that the firm reneged on a promise to reward them with permanent resident cards in return for investing in the renovation of its SLS Las Vegas property.
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According to a Friday report from the Los Angeles Times newspaper, the action was filed last month in Los Angeles County Superior Court and claims that every one of the 60 plaintiffs had contributed some $545,000 towards the 2014 revamp of the Las Vegas property but had yet to receive their permanent United States ‘green cards’.
The newspaper reported that the lawsuit, which also names hotel operator SBE Entertainment Group alongside immigration consultancy Henry Global Consulting Group as defendants, alleges that the investors were persuaded to sign English-language versions of the visa program paperwork despite most not fully understanding this language. As such, the action purportedly contends that the defendants relied on verbal assurances that they would be rewarded with permanent resident cards within 30 months.
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Formerly known as the Sahara Hotel and Casino, the 1,327-room SLS Las Vegas, which features a trio of hotel towers as well as a 50,000 sq ft casino offering some 600 slots alongside 60 gaming tables, was purchased by Stockbridge Capital Group in 2007 before being shut down four years later after a 59-year run on the Strip. Despite spending some $415 million on renovations in 2014 subsequent to re-opening the Nevada property, the lawsuit additionally alleges that the San Francisco-based owner has since struggled to turn a profit from the venue.
“Once the SLS [Las Vegas] opened, it has allegedly not turned a profit from day one and is currently on the verge of bankruptcy,” reads a portion of the lawsuit cited by the newspaper.
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Stockbridge Capital Group is currently in the process of selling its holdings its SLS Las Vegas to construction and real estate development firm Meruelo Group. The lawsuit reportedly moreover contends that this sale would violate the terms of the ‘green card’ scheme, which requires any investment to be ‘sustained’, while the poor performance of the property means that each plaintiff has so far failed to create the visa program’s minimum requirement of ten full-time jobs.
“To make matters worse, the SLS [Las Vegas] revenue was less than 50% of what was projected so the project had not created sufficient jobs to allow all investors including some of the plaintiffs to get ‘green cards’,” a portion of the lawsuit reportedly states.
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In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, Stockbridge Capital Group reportedly declared that the lawsuit is ‘without merit’ and is not expected to ‘deter the sale’ of its SLS Las Vegas holdings to Meruelo Group.