As of today, Kazuo Okada is officially off of the Wynn Resorts board, Reuters reports.
It’s the latest slap in the face to Okada in an ugly public fight between him and his former best friend and business partner, casino mogul Steve Wynn.
Until about a week ago, Okada owned 20% (2x as much as Wynn) of Wynn resorts. That was when the Wynn board forcibly bought out his stake and accused Okada of trying to bribe Philippine regulators to build his own casino in the country.
Okada has countered all of that with his own accusations, saying Wynn bribed officials in Macao by making a big donation to a university there.
But hold up. What could really come of this nasty battle? Reuters spoke to some legal experts about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the U.S. law that Okada and Wynn are using to get each other into trouble. The law basically bars any company with U.S. ties from bribing officials of other governments in order to do business.
Bottom line: Experts say both accusations are totally light-weight and that both parties will have trouble proving that the other violated the FCPA.
The problem with the case against Wynn is that his donation was made very publicly and was vetted by lawyers (from Reuters):
The “transparency and openness” of the donation “run counter to any assumption that a bribe was being paid,” said Palmina Fava, a partner at the law firm Paul Hastings who focuses on FCPA investigations and is not involved in the dispute.
The problem with the case against Okada is simple. His company, Universal Entertainment Corp. isn’t an American company, it’s Japanese (from Reuters).
For non-U.S. companies, they usually need to take an act while in the U.S. to subject themselves to U.S. jurisdiction,” said Eli Richardson, a former federal prosecutor who now works in private practice at the law firm Bass, Berry & Sims.
Bribery aside, Wynn has said that he considers Okada’s Philippine project a direct competitor to his name-sake company’s operations in Macao.
That said, why don’t we get to the heart of the issue here, have these guys sit in a padded room together with a nice bottle of scotch, and talk it out like gentlemen.