Wynn returns fire on Okada over shareholder letter

AP Photo/Nevada Appeal, Cathleen Allison

Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn, right, talks with Kazuo Okada during a Gaming Commission hearing Thursday, June 17, 2004, in Carson City, where Okada received approval for a license for his Japanese Aruze Corporation to manufacture and sell slot machines in Nevada.

Casino resort owner Wynn Resorts Ltd. fired back Tuesday at board member Kazuo Okada in their dispute over whether Okada can make nominations to the Wynn board.

While the company has redeemed his $2.9 billion in Wynn stock and replaced it with a $1.9 billion note, Okada atttorneys are headed to court next month in hopes of reinstating Okada's status as a shareholder so he can nominate at least two members to the Wynn board.

Okada issued an open letter to shareholders Monday as part of a regulatory filing in the dispute in which each side has suggested wrongdoing on the part of the other related to an Okada development in the Philippines and Wynn's pledge to donate $135 million to a university in Macau.

Okada's letter promoting two candidates for the board focused on his criticism of Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn, blaming him for a nearly 30 percent decline in the company's stock price and suggesting the Wynn board needs some members independent of Steve Wynn to protect shareholders.

Wynn Resorts, in its statement Tuesday, reiterated that Okada through his companies has not been a stockholder since the Feb. 18 redemption "after a lengthy, third-party investigation uncovered prima facie evidence of improper conduct under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by Mr. Okada, (his companies) Universal Entertainment and Aruze in their dealings with Philippine officials."

"This most recent filing is a regrettable attempt to divert attention from the issues facing Mr. Okada and Aruze. Given the fact that Aruze was ejected seven months ago as a Wynn shareholder based on conduct unacceptable for a gaming licensee, it has absolutely no rights as a shareholder to nominate directors and its invalid nominations have been rejected on this basis," Wynn Resorts said in its statement.

Wynn Resorts urged shareholders to pay close attention to any proxy statements it may file related to the board election planned during the November annual meeting.

It noted the company, its directors and certain of its officers may be involved in the solicitation of proxies from shareholders covering issues to be considered at the annual meeting.

Wynn Resorts has been threatening to remove Okada from its board, but hasn't yet indicated if it will attempt to do so during the annual meeting.

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