Kazuo Okada, the Japanese billionaire at the centre of a dispute with Wynn Resorts, is seeking a restraining order against its board to prevent it from redeeming his 20 per cent stake in the company, which operates casinos in Las Vegas and Macao.
Wynn Resorts has filed a lawsuit against Mr Okada, a director and co-founder of the company, accusing him of “improper acts” and trying “to convert Wynn Resorts assets for his own benefit”. But people familiar with the situation said Mr Okada would respond with his own lawsuit.
Universal Entertainment, the company he controls, said in a statement that Wynn’s actions were “motivated by self-interest and represent the results of an incomplete and otherwise flawed corporate governance process”.
As the barbs between the two sides intensified, Bob Miller, the former governor of Nevada who now sits on the Wynn board, said during a press conference call that the company had concluded that Mr Okada was “unsuitable” and “posed an ongoing risk” to Wynn Resorts following an investigation into Mr Okada’s alleged attempts to develop a casino in the Philippines.
Mr Miller said Wynn’s gaming licenses “would be put under a cloud” were it not to take action against Mr Okada. Mr Miller added that “it would potentially jeopardise not only our existing licenses, but clearly could be utilised as a sign or our unsuitability for prospective licenses in any other jurisdiction”.
Wynn plans to redeem the Japanese tycoon’s stake at a steep discount over a decade, alleging in court papers that the former friend of Steve Wynn, its founder, made unauthorised payments to gaming regulators and violated the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
In a lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in district court in Nevada, Wynn alleged that Mr Okada pressed ahead with plans to create a casino in Manila Bay in the Philippines in spite of the company’s objections.
“Many doors opened for Okada in the Philippines due to his well publicised relationship with … Wynn Resorts,” the company alleged in the filing.
Mr Okada “touted his relationship with and affiliation” with the company “to convince others” that Wynn supported his plan.
In the lawsuit, Wynn said that it commissioned an “independent investigation” of the gaming industry in the Philippines and decided against investing in the country. The company alleged that Mr Okada was “undeterred” and arranged for Mr Wynn to meet Benigno Aquino, the president of the Philippines, and was “embarrassed and angry” at having to cancel the arrangements.
Mr Okada’s Tokyo-listed gaming group, fell by more than 20 per cent on Monday after news about the redemption of his stake in Wynn. The shares seemed to have hit a floor on Tuesday, falling 0.3 per cent.
Mr Okada sued Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas last month, alleging that the company was blocking his efforts to gain access to its financial records after he questioned gifts made by the company to the university. That prompted the US Securities and Exchange Commission last week to open an inquiry into those donations.
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