Okada's firm to probe allegations of bribery

Jan 8, 2013 3:08 AM

Allegations of improper payments to obtain a Philippine casino license by Kazuo Okada are being investigated by Nevada and Asian officials and are being used by Steve Wynn and Wynn Resorts Ltd. to seek his ouster as a member of the company’s board of directors.

On Monday, Okada elected to join the investigation. His Universal Entertainment Corp. announced it was setting up an independent group of experts to investigate media reports that the company spent millions of dollars to gain a license for its Manila Bay gaming project.

Universal is suing Reuters in Tokyo following allegations by the reporting service that Universal has made payments of some $40 million to Rodolfo Soriano, a former consultant to the Philippine gaming authority.

The company has also sued three former employees charging they made a number of payments illegally and without authorization. All through the allegations, Universal Entertainment, owned by Okada and his son through a family trust, has denied all charges of illegal payments.

Oddly, it wasn’t these million dollar payments Wynn and his board used last year to seize Okada’s 20 percent stake in the company. The move was motivated by an investigation conducted by former FBI Director Louis Freeh that charged Okada with romancing Philippine gaming officials with cash and gifts valued at about $110,000 in Macau.

Wynn Resorts shareholders will meet on February 22 to vote on Okada’s ouster from the board.

Ray Poirier is the longtime executive editor at GamingToday.

Contact Ray at [email protected].

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