Sheldon G. Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS) acknowledged Friday that it "likely" had violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, making the admission in the context of its annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Las Vegas Sands is a Fortune 500 company that owns and operates integrated casino resorts in Asia and the U.S. The resorts feature accommodations, convention facilities, entertainment, restaurants, and retail operations, as well as gambling.

The FCPA prohibits U.S. companies and their intermediaries from bribing or otherwise making improper payments to foreign officials for the purpose of either obtaining or retaining business.

In its SEC Form 10-K, Las Vegas Sands reported the company knew the SEC had been investigating its compliance with the FCPA since at least Feb. 9, 2011, and that it was aware the U.S. Justice Department was also investigating the same matter.

After Las Vegas Sands was subpoenaed by the SEC a little more than two years ago, the company said in its filing, "[T]he Board of Directors delegated to the Audit Committee, comprised of three independent members of the Board of Directors, the authority to investigate the matters raised in the SEC subpoena and related inquiry of the DOJ.

"As part of the annual audit of the Company’s financial statements, the Audit Committee advised the Company and its independent accountants that it had reached certain preliminary findings, including that there were likely violations of the books and records and internal controls provisions of the FCPA and that in recent years, the Company has improved its practices with respect to books and records and internal controls.

"Based on the information provided to management by the Audit Committee and its counsel, the Company believes, and the Audit Committee concurs, that the preliminary findings do not have a material impact on the financial statements of the Company; do not warrant any restatement of the Company’s past financial statements; and do not represent a material weakness in the Company’s internal controls over financial reporting as of December 31, 2012."

Las Vegas Sands also said: "The investigation by the Audit Committee, though largely completed, remains ongoing. The Company is cooperating with all investigations. Based on proceedings to date, management is currently unable to determine the probability of the outcome of this matter, the extent of materiality, or the range of reasonably possible loss, if any."

Las Vegas Sands' "likely" violations of the FCPA probably were related to the company's Chinese operations, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Adelson, Las Vegas Sands' chairman and CEO, made headlines during the U.S. elections last year when he poured millions of dollars into the coffers of groups supporting Republican Party presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.