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Steve Wynn Accuses Top Shareholder of Fraud

An ongoing spat between CEO Steve Wynn of Wynn Resorts and Japanese gambling mogul Kazuo Okada has turned into a very public fist-fight, with Wynn accusing Okada of fraud and forcibly buying back the 20% stake Okada owned in Wynn Resorts at a deep discount.

Okada has denounced the move as "outrageous" and is threatening legal action of his own and asking for new oversight of the board of directors for Wynn Resorts -- a surprising turn in a friendship and partnership between the two billionaires that had stretched out for more than a decade.

This escalation of tensions between Wynn and Okaka comes after the two began feuding in January over rumors that improper payments had been made by Okada to Macau officials to pave the way for Wynn Resorts' casino operations there.

Both are accusing the other of being behind the payments, with Wynn claiming that a $135 million donation made to the University of Macau by Okada was nothing but a thinly-veiled bribe.

Wynn's move to buy back the 20% stake owned by Okada came after a year-long investigation into Okada's business dealings by independent outside investigators hired by Wynn Resorts.

The report found over three dozen instances during three years in which Okada and his associates allegedly engaged in "improper activities for their own benefit in apparent violation of U.S. anti-corruption laws."

Wynn Resorts announced it had bought back Okada's 24 million shares worth $2.7 billion at a discount of around 30 percent, promising to pay him $1.9 billion in 10 years with an annual interest of 2%.

The fued came as a shock to many industry insiders and friends of the two, with Wynn gushing back in 2008 that: "I love Kazuo Okada as much as any man that I've ever met in my life. He's my partner and my friend. And there is hardly anything that I won't do for him."

20-Feb-2012, 03:06

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