Steve Wynn’s ex-wife secures payout from disgraced casino mogul, ending bitter lawsuit
The payout came after Elaine Wynn testified that she told a Wynn company lawyer in 2009 about a rape claim against her billionaire ex-husband
A six-year boardroom battle ended Monday with a settlement involving the Las Vegas company founded by embattled former casino mogul Steve Wynn and his ex-wife.
A judge who was to begin seating a jury for a planned six-week trial in the town that Wynn helped build dismissed prospective jurors after teams of attorneys representing the company and the former couple declared the case ended with a payment pending from Steve Wynn to Elaine Wynn. They refused to disclose the amount.
Lawyers for all parties said details would be posted in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
The settlement ends the protracted court fight involving Wynn, a former business partner and his ex-wife, who joined the legal proceedings two year ago alleging she was wrongly ousted from the company’s board.
It’s the latest in a series of rapid developments following the airing in January by The Wall Street Journal of sexual misconduct allegations against Steve Wynn. The newspaper reported that several women said the billionaire harassed or assaulted them and that one case led to a US$7.5 million settlement in 2005 with a manicurist formerly employed by the company.
Wynn denies the claims.
Wynn resigned as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee after the allegations were published, and he resigned on February 6 as chairman and chief executive of the casino-operating company that bears his name. He has since sold all his shares in the company.
The settlement followed testimony last month from Elaine Wynn that she told a top company lawyer in 2009 that she received information alleging her ex-husband had raped an employee in 2005. The corporate counsel, Kim Sinatra, denied receiving any such information.
Steve Wynn released a statement through spokeswoman Elizabeth Lampert on Monday saying that “all outstanding legal issues” had been resolved with Elaine Wynn, and expressing “gratification that he was able to put all of the personal unpleasantness of the last few years between he and Ms Wynn behind him.”
Elaine Wynn said through spokesman Devon Spurgeon that she was “pleased this litigation has now been resolved.”
The couple divorced in 2010.
Wynn Resorts said Elaine Wynn had dropped claims against it and Sinatra, and that the company made no payment under the agreement.
The greater portion of the case was settled last month when Wynn Resorts agreed to pay US$2.4 billion to Tokyo casino game maker Universal Entertainment Corp, which once held an almost 20 per cent stake in the Las Vegas-based company through its subsidiary Aruze USA Inc. That legal fight dated back to 2012, when Wynn Resorts forcibly took all the shares controlled by Universal’s founder Kazuo Okada and issued a US$1.9 billion promissory note.
The company redeemed the shares after accusing Okada of making improper payments to overseas gambling regulators. He denied the allegations.
A week after the companies agreed to the settlement, another portion of the legal fight ended when a shareholders agreement that stipulated Steve Wynn and Elaine Wynn would vote jointly on company matters was deemed invalid by a state court judge. That agreement had prevented Elaine Wynn from controlling her stake in the company
Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez had ruled the jury in the trial pitting Steve Wynn against Elaine Wynn would be able to hear about the settlement and allegations of illegal gambling by two company executives.
The settlement doesn’t end legal battles for Steve Wynn or the company’s board of directors.
Groups of shareholders filed lawsuits after the sexual misconduct allegations came to light, alleging breach of fiduciary duties. Current and former employees also have filed lawsuits, and the company has drawn scrutiny from gambling regulators in Nevada and Massachusetts.
Regulators in Macau, where the company operates two casinos, are also inquiring about the sexual misconduct allegations.
Wynn, 76, has been major developer in Las Vegas for decades, dating to the reshaping of the downtown Golden Nugget. He built the Mirage, Treasure Island and Bellagio resorts on the Strip in the 1990s before selling his Mirage Resorts company in 2000.
Two years later, he founded Wynn Resorts, which now operates two posh casino-resorts in the city and is planning to build a lake and hotel development called Paradise Park on the site of a former golf course.