MANILA, Philippines – The gambling world’s best friends-turned-bitter enemies continue to wash their dirty linen in the media and in the courts.
On Tuesday, March 13, Wynn Resorts Ltd stressed in a statement that the countersuit of its single largest shareholder, Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada, did not provide “any meaningful denial of the facts” provided by an investigation.
“Despite its enormous length and scurrilous allegations, the Okada response fails to contain any meaningful denial of the facts detailed in the Freeh Report or Governor Miller’s conference call on February 21, 2012,” the casino firm said, referring to the investigation report by former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Louis Freeh.
“Wynn Resorts looks forward to having Mr. Okada’s actions and the Company’s response presented to and adjudicated in court,” it added.
Okada and Steve Wynn are business partners in Wynn Resorts, which has casino and hotel operations in Las Vegas and Macau.
The Philippines got dragged into their “war” since the Freeh Report extensively detailed allegedly “improper gifts” to officials of the local gambling regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), which is overseeing Okada’s upcoming Philippine casino.
Of the over US$110,000 costs charged to the corporate account of Okada in Wynn over a 3-year period, the bulk, or over $50,000, was booked in September 2010, when Pagcor chief Cristino Naguiat Jr. and his family and Pagcor colleagues visited Wynn Macau.
The globally covered corporate fisticuffs had led to congressional inquiries in the House of Representatives in the Philippines. The Senate will be conducting its own hearings on Pagcor’s actions soon, too.
This news has led to concerns of ethical behavior of the Pagcor officials. Malacanang, which has previously cleared Naguiat, is conducting an investigation on the current Pagcor chief who is a classmate of President Aquino.
Okada is one of the world’s richest, according to the 2012 World’s Billionaires list of Forbes magazine.
On March 12, his Aruze USA holding company filed a countersuit before a US federal court alleging that Wynn Resorts’ board breached fiduciary duties and that it violated racketeering laws.
In February, the Wynn board had voted to redeem the shares of Aruze and Universal Entertainment in Wynn Resorts, citing the Freeh report as basis for alleging that Okada violated the Anti-Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Okada and his 2 firms have shares in Wynn Resorts aggregating to nearly 20%. According to an extensive report of the Wall Street Journal, Okada used to be a silent partner in Wynn Resorts, bankrolling expansion activities of the casino.
When he needed funds for his own undertakings in Asia, including in the Entertainment City in the Philippines, he reportedly got more involved in Wynn Resorts’ affairs.
Steve Wynn, however, reportedly was not as excited about investing in the Philippines as Okada since he and the board were shown a report about the Philippines’ “corrupt practices.” – Rappler.com