A California judge has dismissed casino mogul Steve Wynn’s libel lawsuit against hedge fund manager Jim Chanos, founder of Kynikos Associates.
The suit was dismissed with prejudice and Wynn will have to pay Chanos’ legal expenses.
“I need look no further than the transcript and video of the symposium to conclude that Chanos’s words do not amount to a statement of fact, but rather an opinion that is not actionable. For these reasons, and because I grant Chanos’s motion to dismiss,” Judge William Orrick wrote in his decision.
The suit was filed in September. Wynn accused Chanos of slandering him at a closed talk in April of 2014 in which Chanos discussed his thoughts on Macau’s casino industry. Wynn said that Chanos accused him and his firm of being in violation of the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. He also argued that Wynn Resorts had been “thoroughly investigated” by regulators already.
You can see video of the event here. Chanos starts speaking around 4:00 and again around 36:00.
“I need look no further than the transcript and video of the symposium to conclude that Chanos’s words do not amount to a statement of fact, but rather an opinion that is not actionable,” Orrick wrote.
He also added: “Chanos’s remarks at the symposium expressed “general uncertainty about the questionable business methods in Macau…” The statement “I got a little nervous the deeper we dug into Macau and the more I got concerned that although I was long, the U.S. casino operators, like Mr. Adelson and Mr. Wynn, I began to really get concerned about the risk I was taking with clients’ money under Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and a variety of other, you know, aspects of exactly how business is done there” does not amount to a factual
assertion… There is no way to prove this view to be false, because the truth of the statement does not turn on a finding that Wynn did or did not violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”).”
Chanos has been public about his negative view on Macau in more public forums as well. On May 15 of last year, Chanos told CNBC that he would “no longer be long on the Macau casino.”
Chanos launched his short-only firm back in the 1980s and catapulted to international fame after helping to bring accounting fraud at Enron before the company went bankrupt.