Wynn sued over HK$1b Macau donation

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 January, 2012, 12:00am


Kazuo Okada, the billionaire who is the biggest shareholder in the casino developer Wynn Resorts, is suing the company for access to its financial records over an 'unprecedented' HK$1 billion donation to the University of Macau Development Foundation and other transactions.

He is also asking a court in Nevada in the US to order Wynn Resorts to open its books on how it used US$380 million that he invested in the company and its subsidiaries after requests for access were 'rebuffed'.

This includes a US$30 million payment made by Okada's Aruze USA to Wynn Resorts in 2002 'supposedly to finance 'due diligence' [in Macau]', the lawsuit says. A second US$90 million payment that same year was also intended 'to fund other elements of the [Macau] enterprise', it said.

Okada, 69, is a Japanese pachinko magnate who has been a business partner of the Las Vegas casino billionaire Steve Wynn for more than a decade. He controls Universal Entertainment, formerly Aruze Corp, and was No 26 on the most recent Forbes list of Japan's richest people. He also holds Hong Kong residency.

Okada owns 20 per cent of Wynn Resorts, while Steve Wynn now holds 10 per cent, after transferring half of his previous stake to his ex-wife Elaine Wynn in 2010. Okada is vice-chairman of Wynn Resorts and a director of its 72 per cent-owned subsidiary, Wynn Macau.

The lawsuit appears to mark a sore spot in a long and profitable business partnership. In 2008, Wynn said: 'I love Kazuo Okada as much as any man I have met in my life. He's my partner and my friend. And there is hardly anything I won't do for him.'

The legal complaint, posted yesterday by Wynn Resorts in a stock exchange filing, says Okada asked the company for access to the books four times but either received no reply or was 'summarily rebuffed'.

In May last year, the Hong Kong-listed Wynn Macau announced what appears to be the biggest ever donation by a locally listed company, an HK$1 billion gift to the University of Macau Development Fund. The money is to be paid in instalments until 2022, the year Wynn Macau's casino licence is set to expire.

'Mr Okada objected to this donation, which appears to be unprecedented in the annals of that university,' the suit says. Wynn Macau declined to comment.