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Former Wynn Partner Okada Calls Macau Donation ‘Suspicious’

Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Kazuo Okada, a co-founder of Wynn Resorts Ltd. who is locked in a legal battle with his former partner Steve Wynn, accused the company of making a “suspicious” $135 million donation to a Macau university.

Okada, who is suing to reclaim a 20 percent stake seized by the casino operator, said today in a letter to shareholders filed with regulators that investors have lost confidence in Wynn Resorts’ management and board.

The letter is the latest salvo in a battle between Okada and Wynn that has spanned two continents and several courtrooms. In the filing, Okada said the donation came as Wynn Resorts sought approval for a third Macau casino. Okada also makes a case in the letter for his two nominees to the board of Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts: Yale University professor Jonathan Macey and former CBS executive Fredric G. Reynolds.

Wynn Resorts said on Feb. 19 an investigation by its board found Okada, 69, made gifts and other payments to Asian casino regulators that made him unsuitable as an investor. The company forcibly repurchased his shares at a 30 percent discount to market value.

Okada, the founder and chairman of the Tokyo-based pachinko company Universal Entertainment Corp., has contested the redemption. He is scheduled to appear for a deposition tomorrow by Wynn Resorts’ lawyers, according to an Aug. 31 state court filing.

In January, Okada filed suit in Nevada seeking access to Wynn Resorts financial records, saying at the time he opposed the donation to the University of Macau Development Foundation.

Wynn Resorts fell 0.5 percent to $112.47 at the close in New York. The shares have fallen 26 percent in the past year. Wynn Macau Ltd. rose 2.3 percent to HK$20.25 in Hong Kong.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at cpalmeri1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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