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Okada shocked by Wynn settlement, lawyers say

Updated March 12, 2018 - 2:39 pm

Lawyers for Kazuo Okada on Friday said the Japanese businessman was shocked by the $2.4 billion settlement reached a day earlier between Wynn Resorts and his Universal Entertainment Corp.

“This came as a complete surprise to Mr. Okada. We had no information whatsoever they were engaged in any negotiations or discussions,” attorney J. Stephen Peek told District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez.

Wynn Resorts on Thursday said it had ended the six-year battle with Universal over a 20 percent stake in the Las Vegas-based casino operator.

Wynn Resorts will pay in full by March 31 the $1.94 billion promissory note issued to Universal in 2012 for its stake and $463 million in disputed interest on the note. The two sides said they no longer have any claims against each other.

Okada’s lawyer tried to stay the judge’s order to dismiss the case and disburse the funds to Universal on the grounds that the Tokyo-based company’s current board did not have the authority to approve the deal.

There is a dispute about who controls Universal, creating a “cloud” over the board’s authority, Peek said. Okada, who founded Universal five decades ago, was pushed out of the board of the company in June amid allegations he misappropriated funds.

Okada owns 46 percent of Okada Holding, which owns about two-thirds of Universal. A Hong Kong court next month could restore Okada’s control over Okada Holding and thus, in turn, over Universal, Peek said.

Counsel for Universal called that pure speculation.

An Okada-controlled Universal “would not agree to the settlement terms” with Wynn, Peek told the judge in explaining his request for a stay on the order to dismiss the case.

“We are still assessing the impact of this settlement on our client and on the trial scheduled for April,” Peek said.

Universal’s counsel rejected Peek’s claims about the legitimacy of the board. The counsel said Okada never owned the Wynn stake that was in dispute and has no right to ask the court to suspend the transfer of the funds.

Gonzalez rejected Okada’s lawyers request for a stay. She gave them until Monday afternoon to submit an application for a temporary restraining order, after which all of the parties would discuss “how that impacts anything.”


Contact Todd Prince at 702 383-0386 or tprince@reviewjournal.com. Follow @toddprincetv on Twitter.

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