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Gaming Guru

Tim O'Reiley

Ex-Wynn partner Okada must come to U.S.

29 June 2012

Kazuo Okada on Thursday earned an unwelcome trip to Las Vegas to face hostile questioning by attorneys for Wynn Resorts Ltd.

Backing a request by Wynn attorneys, Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez said Okada must appear for a deposition in Las Vegas rather than have Wynn's legal team travel to his Hong Kong headquarters at their expense, the course promoted by Okada.

However, she limited the questioning to Okada's motives in seeking a lengthy list of Wynn Resorts internal documents.

Wynn attorney James Pisanelli raised the prospect that Okada, who was found unsuitable to continue as a shareholder but who is still a Wynn director, has a conflict of interest between his duties to the company and personal goals in his legal fight with the company and the rest of the board.

"I want an opportunity to see if he has a divided loyalty," Pisanelli said.

Okada's attorneys have primarily sought records from the early days of the company as well as those covering last year's $135 million donation to the University of Macau. As a director, the attorneys have argued, he is entitled to see detailed inner workings of the company.

Whether he actually makes the trans-Pacific flight remains to be seen. A statement released by spokesman Steve Getzug read, "Mr. Okada is studying the ruling and evaluation all of his options to inspect the corporate records and financial ledgers related to Wynn Resorts' efforts to obtain gaming licenses in Macau."

Part of Okada's current aversion to the United States may involve technical legalities related to a companion case filed by Wynn in seeking to validate the forced redemption of Okada's nearly 20 percent stake in the company in February. So far, Wynn attorneys have been able to formally serve Okada's two companies, Aruze USA Inc. and Universal Entertainment Corp., but not Okada himself.

Pisanelli said he would use the deposition as the opportunity to hand service papers to Okada, but declined to say if he or associates would wait at the airport for him.

No deposition date has yet been set.

In the case, Okada has counterattacked with securites fraud claims and an attempt to regain his stake.

Further, director Elaine Wynn, ex-wife of chairman and CEO Steve Wynn, has asked that she be allowed to sell her stock in the company, which is worth about $1 billion. Under the terms of a shareholder agreement entered at the time of the Wynn's divorce, Steve Wynn and Okada must agree to let her sell any stock. She argues that the agreement was voided when Okada's stock was revoked.
Ex-Wynn partner Okada must come to U.S. is republished from