Universal accuses Wynn of libel in Philippines lawsuit

TOKYO Thu Dec 13, 2012 2:50pm EST

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Universal Entertainment Corp 6425.OS said on Thursday it had filed a criminal complaint in the Philippines against the chairman of Wynn Resorts (WYNN.O), Steve Wynn, accusing him of libel over allegations of improper payments.

The complaint relates to allegations in an internal investigation, the results of which were published on Wynn Resorts' website.

It is the latest twist in a nearly year-long quarrel between Universal founder Kazuo Okada and Wynn. They have sued each other in the United States, and Okada has filed a defamation suit against his former partner in Japan.

Universal, Japan's largest maker of pachinko gaming machines, said in a statement it had filed the complaint through Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment, a subsidiary in the Philippines that has been granted a provisional license to operate a $2 billion casino it is developing on Manila Bay.

Wynn in a statement on Thursday said the lawsuit was just the latest in a series of desperate actions by Okada.

"This ridiculous and spurious action is just the latest baseless threat in Mr. Okada's increasingly desperate campaign to divert public attention from his deepening legal troubles in multiple jurisdictions," Wynn said in the emailed statement.

In February, Wynn stripped Okada of a 20 percent shareholding in Wynn Resorts through Okada's U.S. subsidiary, Aruze. Wynn Resorts said Okada was unsuitable to continue as a board member of the company after an internal investigation alleged Okada appeared to have violated U.S. anti-corruption laws through payments it had made.

Details of the investigation, by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, appear on Wynn Resorts' website.

"The investigation was clearly an afterthought and was commissioned for the purpose of providing justification for the baseless findings of the Compliance Committee," Universal said in a press release on Thursday.

Universal said Okada was ousted because he objected to a $135 million donation made by Wynn Resorts in Macau.

In early December, Okada and Universal said they had filed a libel action against Reuters and others over news articles relating to payments Universal made to an ex-consultant to the Philippine gaming authority.

(Reporting by Nathan Layne in Tokyo; Additional reporting by Sue Zeidler in Los Angeles; Editing by Matthew Tostevin and Leslie Adler)

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