Wynn Resorts sets vote to oust Okada from board

Gaming giant Wynn Resorts called on shareholders Monday to eject Japanese tycoon Kazuo Okada from the Wynn board of directors in a special vote scheduled on February 22.

Wynn Resorts recalled that its board had previously deemed Okada "unsuitable" after a lengthy investigation found evidence that Okada and his partners violated anti-corruption laws in their dealings with Philippine officials.

"We are confident our shareholders understand the importance of removing him on February 22," the Las Vegas-based company said in a statement.

Wynn meanwhile said the Nevada Gaming Control Board had deemed "unfounded" Okada's claim that Wynn Macau Ltd's $135 million donation to the University of Macau was improper.

The chairman of the NGCB, A.G. Burnett, told AFP that an "extensive" probe of Okada's allegations revealed "there are no Nevada regulatory violations."

In March 2012, Okada, formerly a close partner of Wynn founder Steve Wynn and a major Wynn Resorts shareholder, questioned the company's use of tens millions of dollars in pursuit of a gaming license in Macau.

He also accused Wynn Resorts's board of directors of not being objective or independent.

But on Monday the US casino operator said it had made progress in combating what it called Okada's "ongoing smear campaign."

Wynn Resorts said it had gained the support of a leading proxy firm, Institutional Shareholder Services, for the removal of Okada at the February 22 vote.

The company also said the federal court of Nevada had approved its request for dismissal of a shareholder complaint that was based on Okada's allegations because of an "insufficient legal basis."

But Wynn Resorts would not comment on whether the company was still under investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission over its Macau activities.

In February 2012, Wynn Resorts revealed in an SEC filing that the SEC had opened an "informal inquiry" related to the University of Macau donation.

Contacted by AFP Monday, the SEC as a matter of policy would not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.

Last year Okada, head of Universal Entertainment, accused Steve Wynn and his allies on the board of forcing him out as a director and major shareholder "to enrich themselves."

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