Japanese tycoon bribed Pagcor execs: US suit

Posted at 02/22/12 5:25 PM

WASHINGTON - Japanese gambling tycoon Kazuo Okada was accused Tuesday in a US lawsuit of paying off Philippine regulators and cheating his powerful Las Vegas partner.

Wynn Resorts said Okada, Japan's pachinko king and a director of Wynn, went behind the company's back to develop business for his own Universal Entertainment in the Philippines and broke US laws on foreign bribery, the lawsuit alleges.

Kazuo Okada, chairman of Universal Entertainment Corp, is seen during the ground breaking ceremony of its casino-hotel projects in Manila in this January 26, 2012 file photo. / REUTERS

Wynn said Okada spent more than $110,000 to curry favor with two Philippines officials in apparent violation of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, jeopardizing Wynn's own reputation in the process.

"Mr. Okada, his associates and companies appear to have engaged in a longstanding practice of making payments and gifts to his two chief gaming regulators at the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), who directly oversee and regulate Mr. Okada's provisional licensing agreement to operate in that company," the lawsuit said.

It named former Pagcor chairman Efraim Genuino and current Chairman Cristino Naguiat, and their families, as the recipients of the payoffs, which dated to 2008.

The suit said that Okada made the payments, and sought a gaming license in the Philippines, despite Wynn's telling him not to do so.

"Okada's conduct poses a direct assault upon, and a threat to, Wynn Resorts' reputation for probity, which is central to maintaining its stature in the gaming industry as well as its current and future licensing."

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in the Las Vegas district court.

It was the latest step in the acrimonious fight between US casino magnate Steve Wynn and his longtime partner Okada, with Wynn Resorts now trying to force 20 percent shareholder Okada off the company's board.

On Sunday Wynn Resorts said it was redeeming Okada's 24 million shares in the Las Vegas firm, held through his Aruze USA Inc.

Wynn said that the board had voted Sunday to ask Okada to resign.

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