SEC looking into Wynn’s dealings in Macau

Ulf Buchholz / Las Vegas Sun

The Wynn Macau as seen Aug. 17, 2011. Riding a wave of revenue from Macau, Wynn Resorts Ltd. reported third-quarter earnings of $127.1 million on net revenue of $1.29 billion.

Casino resort operator Wynn Resorts Ltd. of Las Vegas on Monday disclosed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into its $135 million donation pledge to the University of Macau and its casino license in Macau.

The disclosure was made after last week's court hearing in which dissident board member Kazuo Okada received the right to see documentation about that gift and other issues -- as long as his information requests are reasonable.

In a regulatory filing Monday with the SEC, the U.S. regulator of securities including stocks and bonds, Wynn said that on Feb. 8, "following Mr. Okada’s lawsuit, the company received a letter from the Salt Lake Regional Office of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission requesting that, in connection with an informal inquiry by the SEC, the company preserve information relating to the donation to the University of Macau, any donations by the company to any other educational charitable institutions, including the University of Macau Development Foundation, and the company’s casino or concession gaming licenses or renewals in Macau. The company intends to fully comply with the SEC’s request."

This lifts to two the number of Las Vegas gaming companies facing SEC inquiries of the casino operators' dealings in Macau, a gambling district in China. Las Vegas Sands Corp. has previously disclosed an SEC inquiry into its compliance with a U.S. anti-bribery law. That probe was prompted by a fired executive's lawsuit alleging wrongdoing in Macau -- charges denied by Las Vegas Sands.

Also on Monday, Wynn disclosed more detail about its donation commitment to the University of Macau.

The company said in its regulatory filing: "As previously disclosed, in May 2011, Wynn Macau, a majority owned subsidiary of Wynn Resorts Ltd., made a commitment to the University of Macau Development Foundation in support of the new Asia-Pacific Academy of Economics and Management. This contribution consists of a $25 million payment made in May 2011 and a commitment for additional donations of $10 million each year for the calendar years 2012 through 2022 inclusive. The pledge was consistent with the company’s long-standing practice of providing philanthropic support for deserving institutions in the markets in which it operates. The pledge was made following an extensive analysis which concluded that the gift was made in accordance with all applicable laws. The pledge was considered by the Boards of Directors of both the company and Wynn Macau and approved by 15 of the 16 directors who serve on those boards. The sole dissenting vote was Mr. Kazuo Okada whose stated objection was to the length of time over which the donation would occur, not its propriety."

Wynn stock traded early today at $110.14, down 2.7 percent on the news.

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  1. This donation was clearly meant to curry favor with the Macau government so Wynn would be awarded the Cotai land concession the company wants so badly (and stlll hasn't locked up, even with this donation). Don't think that's illegal. But wouldn't it have been nice if Wynn had donated a similar amount to UNLV?

  2. What a PATRIOT! NOT!!!

    Too bad there are no laws regarding treason when it comes to supporting communist countries with abysmal human rights violations ...so many American corporations would high tail it back to the USA from communist China and put their money where it belongs - HERE, creating jobs and educating Americans.

  3. I assume a $135 million pledge to UNLV would be "consistent with the company's long-standing practice of providing philanthropic support for deserving institutions in the markets in which it operates."