Attorneys for Wynn Resorts Ltd. of Las Vegas say dissident board member Kazuo Okada’s latest demand for company documents is a ''fishing expedition'' that should be rejected by a Nevada judge.
In the legal battle between Okada and the Wynn board led by Steve Wynn, Okada attorneys plan to ask the judge on Thursday to require Wynn to turn over records related to, among other things, the company entertaining and spending money on Macau officials in connection with its acquisition of a lucrative Chinese casino license there in the early 2000s.
''The requests are a fishing expedition to locate any document that would allow Okada to say that Steve Wynn and/or Wynn Resorts engaged in some improper act (e.g. paid money to Macau gaming or government officials) to procure a license in Macau,'' Wynn attorneys wrote in a brief filed Wednesday opposing Okada’s request. ''There are no such documents because Wynn Resorts does not 'entertain' or bribe government officials.''
Wynn’s legal team also said Okada’s document demand should be rejected because it’s really Okada’s way to conduct discovery in separate lawsuits related to Wynn Resorts, including a legal action pitting the Wynn board against Okada.
In addition, the Wynn attorneys said Okada refuses to accept service of those lawsuits, including the suit filed against him by the Wynn Resorts board this year.
''Okada has launched a strategy of using this court to gain an upper hand in other cases through backdoor discovery while protecting himself from reciprocal discovery by evading service. Okada’s tactics run afoul of the prohibition of seeking records for an improper purpose,'' Wynn’s court filing said.
The judge hearing Okada’s request for the production of documents, Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez in Las Vegas, on March 8 rejected most of Okada’s initial document demands, saying they were too broad.
Okada attorneys say they’ve narrowed their requests and need to see the papers to deal with efforts by Wynn Resorts to remove him from the board.
These efforts relate to claims by the Wynn Resorts board that Okada is unsuitable to serve and would jeopardize its gaming licenses if he were to remain. The Wynn board reached that conclusion after learning Okada had entertained and provided benefits to Filipino gaming regulators while seeking a license in the Philippines.
Okada attorneys say he also needs to deal with shareholder lawsuits filed against him and other Wynn board members related to Wynn’s donation pledge of $135 million to the University of Macau and Okada’s effort to win the Filipino gaming license.
Shareholders charge in some of their lawsuits filed this year that the University of Macau pledge and Okada’s gaming license lobbying efforts in the Philippines both could run afoul of a U.S. anti-bribery law, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Of the six shareholder suits filed in the aftermath of the Wynn-Okada dispute, Okada is a defendant in three of the cases.
On top of that, his attorneys say, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission wants to interview him about the $135 million donation, and Okada is trying to reverse Wynn Resorts’ forced redemption of his $2.7 billion in Wynn stock at a discount.