Japanese billionaire Okada brings feud with Wynn to Manila

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 13 2012 07:34 PM | Updated as of Dec 14 2012 07:30 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada is bringing his feud with American casino magnate Steve Wynn to Manila.

In a disclosure to the JASDAQ Securities Exchange on Thursday, Okada's Universal Entertainment Corp. said its subsidiary Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment has filed a criminal complaint for "criminal defamation" against Stephen A. Wynn with the Department of Justice Office of the City Prosecutor in Paranaque.

Casino executive Steve Wynn and Kazuo Okada

The company said Tiger Resorts is filing the complaint after it was "subject to defamation, damage to credit and other harm as a result of the press release posted by Wynn Resorts on its official website on February 19, 2012 (United States time)."

"On 19 February 2012, Wynn Resorts, under the direction and control of respondent (Wynn), maliciously issued a global press release, published on its website, containing the following libelous accusations against Mr. Okada and his associates and companies, i.e., complainant Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment, Inc., Universal Entertainment Corporation, and Aruze USA Inc.," Universal said.

Universal noted the DOJ's primer on cybercrime provides that "as of the moment, cybercrime-related cases are dealt with using existing laws."

"This means that internet libel may be 'dealt with' or prosecuted under the existing provisions of the RPC on libel," it added.

Wynn vs Okada

Wynn Resorts' February 19 press release gave details of its investigation into the alleged improper activities of Okada and his associates.

The press release stated: "Mr. Okada and his associates and companies appear to have engaged in a longstanding practice of making payments and gifts to his two chief gaming regulators at the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), who directly oversee and regulated Mr. Okada’s Provisional Licensing Agreement to operate in that country," according to the Freeh Report.

The report further stated that Mr. Okada and his associates have "consciously taken active measures to conceal both the nature and amount of these payments'."

As a result of the investigation, Wynn Resorts filed a lawsuit against Okada, accusing him of spending more than $110,000 in travel expenses and gifts to PAGCOR chairman Efraim Genuino and current chairman Cristino Naguiat.

Feuding tycoons

Okada and Wynn's successful 12-year partnership ended in acrimony earlier this year, with both sides accusing each other of making improper payments to gaming regulators to curry favor for their projects in Macau and the Philippines. 

Universal said the dispute between Okada and Wynn began when the Japanese businessman opposed an anomalous donation pledged by Wynn Macau Limited to the University of Macau.

"Mr. Okada's actions did not sit well with respondent, as the latter feared that an investigation would reveal that the purpose for the huge donation in Macau was improper and illegal.  This prompted respondent Wynn to use the Philippine project as a pretext to eliminate and take over Mr. Okada's stockholdings (through Universal Entertainment Corporation and Aruze USA Inc.), and remove him from Wynn Resorts," Universal said.

Wynn forcibly redeemed Okada's stake and removed him as vice chairman of Wynn last February. 

"The Board meeting of Wynn Resorts determined that Mr. Okada and his companies must have engaged in corrupt activities in connection with the Philippine project, based on the supposition that "the Philippines is a corrupt country'," Universal said.

Universal further alleged that Wynn had "maliciously caused copies of the Freeh Report," which detailed the alleged irregular activities of Okada, to the press.

Last week, Universal sued Thomson Reuters and three of its journalists for defamation over news articles relating to millions of dollars in payments Universal made to an ex-consultant of Pagcor.