U.S. Seeks to Intervene in Wynn Resorts’ Okada Case

The U.S. is seeking to intervene in the lawsuit that Wynn Resorts Ltd. brought against former director Kazuo Okada, whom the casino operator accused of making improper payments to Philippine gaming regulators.

The U.S. yesterday filed a request in Nevada state court in Las Vegas to submit a sealed declaration in support of a motion to intervene and to temporary halt collection of evidence in the lawsuit. Michael Passman, a spokesman for the Justice Department in Washington, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the filing.

Wynn Resorts last year forcibly redeemed Okada’s 20 percent stake in the Las Vegas-based company and sued him for breach of fiduciary duty. Wynn accused the Japanese billionaire, who resigned as director in February, of making improper payments to officials in the Philippines, where he’s building a casino.

The possible violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by a controlling shareholder could threaten Wynn Resorts’ gaming license in Nevada and other jurisdictions, the casino operator claimed.

Eric Andrus, an outside spokesman for Okada with RLM Finsbury in New York, and Michael Weaver, a spokesman for Wynn Resorts, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the filing.

Bribes Barred

The FCPA bars companies or individuals regulated or based in the U.S. from paying bribes to foreign officials to win business. Foreign companies and nationals also can be prosecuted if their corrupt acts were committed in the U.S.

Okada’s company, Tokyo-based Universal Entertainment, said Feb. 5 that a third-party committee was investigating payments made through its U.S. unit, Aruze USA Inc., to official in the Philippines. The committee was looking at $40 million in payments, according to the statement.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into Okada’s pursuit of his Philippine gaming license, any tax benefits he received and the flow of funds involved, Cristino Naguiat, chairman and chief executive of the Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp., the gambling authority, said in January.

The case is Wynn Resorts v. Okada, A-12-656710-B, Clark County District Court, Nevada (Las Vegas).

(Updates with Universal Entertainment filings about payments in Philippines sixth paragraph.)
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