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Okada claims against Wynn Resorts ruled baseless

Wynn Resorts Ltd. said Monday that Nevada gaming officials have ended their investigation into allegations by company director Kazuo Okada that the casino operator made an improper donation to the University of Macau Development Foundation.

In a statement, Wynn Resorts said the Nevada Gaming Control Board determined the "allegations are unfounded." The investigation stemmed from Okada’s year-old lawsuit seeking access to corporate finance records, especially details of the donation.

"We are deeply gratified that Nevada gaming regulators have rejected Mr. Okada’s baseless allegations against our company," Wynn Resorts said in a statement.

Also, Wynn Resorts said a federal court in Las Vegas granted its motion to dismiss a shareholder complaint against the company related to the donation, saying that there was no legal basis for the case to go on.

But the investors, including the Louisiana Municipal Police Retirement System, can amend their complaint, U.S. District Court Judge James Mahan wrote in a ruling issued Friday.

"Plaintiffs’ complaint fails to sufficiently allege that defendants knew that the Macau donation was improper," the ruling said. As of Monday, there was no indication the investor lawsuit would be refiled.

In May 2011, Steve Wynn, the chairman of Wynn Resorts, and almost all the board of directors approved a $135 million donation to the University of Macau. Okada opposed the donation.

The Las Vegas-based gaming company is expanding in Macau with a $3.5 billion resort on the Cotai Strip.

Okada was a co-founder in the company and its largest shareholder, but Wynn Resorts forcibly bought out Okada’s 20 percent stake for a $1.9 billion promissory note payable in 10 years.

The company claimed Okada’s improper payments to Philippine gaming regulators made him unsuitable.

Okada and Steve Wynn have traded accusations of unethical or illegal conduct during a bitter legal and personal dispute for more than a year.

Wynn Resorts will try to remove Okada from its board of directors at a special meeting set for Feb. 22. Okada has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Las Vegas to stop the meeting, saying the proxy that calls for it makes false statements.

Wynn Resorts counters that "Mr. Okada is an unsuitable person, and we are seeking to remove him from our board of directors to protect the interests of the company and our shareholders."

Wynn Resorts also said that Institutional Shareholder Services Inc., a proxy advisory company, issued a report recommending that shareholders vote to remove Okada.

"We are confident our shareholders understand the importance of removing him on Feb. 22," the company said.

Shares of Wynn Resorts lost $1.61, or 1.27 percent, to close at $124.76 on Monday. The company’s 52-week range has gone from a low of $90.11 to a high of $138.28 on the Nasdaq Global Select Market.

Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at csieroty@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @sierotyfeatures on Twitter.

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