Okada allowed to pursue claims against Wynn Resorts board

A Las Vegas judge has reversed an earlier ruling that prevented Steve Wynn’s former business partner from making legal claims against the Wynn Resorts board of directors.

Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzales allowed the introduction of a previously sealed document into evidence that indicated some Wynn board members intended to oust Wynn’s former partner, Kazuo Okada, from the company as early as November 2011.

Ultimately, Okada was removed the following year.

The ruling could place a new perspective on the board as it awaits the results of an investigation of Wynn, accused of allegations that he demanded sexual favors from and assaulted female hotel employees over the last three decades. Wynn has denied any wrongdoing.

Over the years, the board has been criticized for weak corporate governance and rarely opposing Wynn, who serves as the board’s chairman.

At issue in the hearing was the allowance of the sealed document admitted late as evidence allegedly showing some members of the Wynn board were considering ousting Okada before the conclusion of an investigation into alleged misconduct by the Japanese billionaire, once head of Tokyo-based Universal Entertainment Corp., and its U.S. subsidiary, Aruze USA.

Gonzalez, who reversed a ruling she made in November, indicated she won’t allow claims against board members who did not participate in discussions about ousting Okada.

Wynn and Okada were once partners and friends, but that dissolved when Wynn accused Okada of bribing Philippine government authorities on a casino project in that country. Okada countered by questioning Wynn’s motives in a $135 million donation to the University of Macau Development Fund in 2011.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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