MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The company of controversial Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada filed Internet libel case versus his partner-turned-bitter foe, Steve Wynn, in Manila for “maliciously” leaking to the press a report adversarial to Okada.
In a December 13 disclosure to the Japanese stock exchange, Okada-led Universal Entertainment Corp. said the group filed criminal complaint against Wynn, chairman of Wynn Resorts where Okada was vice chair and biggest shareholder, at a local court in Parañaque City.
Aside from Universal, the other complainants are Philippine-based Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment, Inc. and Nevada-based Aruze USA Inc.
This is the latest in a string of cases the groups of Okada and Wynn have filed against each other following Okada’s $2-billion project at the Pagcor Entertainment City, an upcoming casino and entertainment complex at the Manila Bay expected to put the Philippines in the world gambling map.
Previously, the Okada camp also sued Reuters for libel, former employees who were cited in Reuters reports, and his former associates in the United States where cases against him are pending.
Universal said the “criminal complaint of criminal defamation multiple crime” filed against Wynn was “due to being subject to defamation, damage to credit and other harm.”
It cited the “primer on Cybercrime Law issued by the Department of Justice on 26 November 2012,” stressing that Internet libel may be “dealt with” or prosecuted under the existing provisions of the Revised Penal Code on libel.
It specifically cited the “press release posted by Wynn Resorts on its official website on February 19, 2012” which was based on an investigation report of a Louis Freeh, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) chief.
The Freeh report traced the alleged illicit payments, gifts and free travels the Okada group gave officials of casino regulator Philippine Gaming Corp (Pagcor) for incentives regarding Okada’s Manila casino venture, which in turn will rival Wynn Resorts existing casinos in Las Vegas and Macau.
The Okada group said Wynn “maliciously caused copies of the Freeh Report to be given to the press, which enabled several newspapers to publish the contents of the Freeh Report.”
The Wall Street Journal broke the story on the Freeh report in February. Various international and local media picked it up.
The Nevada gaming board is currently investigating Okada’s transactions in Manila, as Philippine agencies — the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation — are also conducting their own.
US-based Wynn, reacting to the libel case filed in Manila, said the lawsuit was “baseless.”
“This ridiculous and spurious action is just the latest baseless threat in Mr. Okada’s increasingly desperate campaign to divert public attention from his deepening legal troubles in multiple jurisdictions,” Reuters reported, citing Wynn’s emailed statement. – Rappler.com