(Reuters) - Wynn Resorts Ltd plans to give evidence to U.S. authorities that it claims shows that its board member Kazuo Okada bribed foreign gaming regulators and may have violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, board member Robert Miller told analysts on Tuesday.
Wynn Resorts organized a call with analysts to discuss its claims against Okada and his company Universal Entertainment Corp.
Universal Entertainment said in a statement emailed after the call: “We believe the allegations leveled against Universal are motivated by self interest and represent the results of an incomplete and otherwise flawed corporate governance process in breach of the Board’s fiduciary and other duties.”
Tensions have escalated in recent weeks between Japanese gaming mogul Okada, who is building a casino in the Philippines, and Wynn Resorts Chief Executive Steve Wynn, a Las Vegas casino tycoon.
The self-made billionaires each claim the other made improper payments to win favor in Macau and the Philippines.
Okada, Wynn Resorts’ largest shareholder, sued Wynn Resorts in January for denying him information about a $135 million donation the company made to the University of Macau that he called “inappropriate”. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is now looking into the donation.
Over the weekend, Steve Wynn upped the ante in his fight against Okada by accusing him of making improper payments to foreign gaming regulators and forcibly buying back Okada’s 20 percent stake in Wynn Resorts Ltd at a deep discount.
Universal said in its email on Tuesday: “Universal believes the entire process has been tainted by the desire to serve Steve Wynn’s predetermined goal of removing Aruze USA as the largest stockholder of the company.
“Aruze USA intends to commence litigation which includes seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to protect its interests in Wynn Resorts and prevent the redemption of its shares.”
Aruze USA is a subsidiary of Universal that owns the Wynn Resorts shares.
Wynn Resorts said in a statement on Sunday that Steve Wynn’s accusations were based on a year-long internal investigation led by Louis Freeh, a former director of the FBI.
The company said that it had waited until Freeh completed a report on the investigation before going to the Justice Department and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It said the report was presented to the company’s board on Saturday.
The company said the investigation had uncovered and documented more than three dozen instances over three years in which Okada and his associates engaged in “improper activities for their own benefit in apparent violation of U.S. anti-corruption laws”.
SEC spokeswoman Florence Harmon and Laura Sweeney from the Department of Justice both declined to comment.
Miller said on the call with analysts that Wynn Resorts had also provided information to Nevada gaming regulators about its investigation. Miller, who has served as a Wynn director since 2002, was governor of Nevada from January 1989 through January 1999.
Okada’s Universal Entertainment Corp said in an emailed response earlier this week that it was not given an opportunity to review the internal report and called it “outrageous.” On February 21, Universal said in a brief statement that it would take all necessary legal steps to protect its investment in Wynn Resorts.
Wynn Resorts shares were up 6.8 percent at $120.35 in afternoon trading.
Reporting By Aruna Viswanatha in Washington and Farah Master in Hong Kong