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Wynn Resorts says federal officials ending inquiry


LAS VEGAS » Wynn Resorts Ltd. said today that the Securities and Exchange Commission has ended its inquiry into allegations by a Japanese billionaire that the casino operator made an improper donation to the University of Macau.

Wynn informed The Associated Press from his boat on the Spanish island of Ibiza today. Wynn said he never had any doubt federal investigators would clear the company.

"We were so sanguine that we never paid any attention to it; we had no exposure. It was a nonevent except for the damn newspapers," he said.

The company later filed a form with the Securities and Exchange commission telling shareholders that the investigation, which began in February, had concluded. The commission told Wynn on July 2 that it would not pursue any enforcement action against the company.

The accusations stem from an ongoing battle between former friends and business partners Kazuo Okada and Wynn.

Okada used to be Wynn Resorts’ single largest shareholder, but the company forcibly bought back his shares after it said it found that Okada made improper payments to overseas gambling regulators.

The two have traded accusations of unethical or illegal conduct during the extended legal, and seemingly personal, dispute.

Okada suggested that the $135 million donation to the University of Macau Development Foundation in 2011 may have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act— a law that bars U.S. companies from paying off officials to win business overseas.

He characterized the donation as "suspicious" in a 2012 letter to the SEC in which he noted that the Development Foundation’s lead trustee is also a member of the Macau government. He said that the donation coincided with Wynn’s request for land to develop a third casino.

"I am at a complete loss as to the business justification for the donation, other than that it was an attempt to curry favor with those that have ultimate authority for issuing gaming licenses," Okada said.

Okada is now under Department of Justice investigation himself for possible bribery in the Philippines, and has been ousted from the Wynn board.

Wynn noted that Okada himself approved the gift, and was photographed representing the company in a ceremony to commemorate the donation.

"His ridiculous allegation about our gift, which all 16 of our directors approved, including him, the phony bum," Wynn said.

A spokesman for Okada did not return calls and emails seeking comment.

In February, Nevada gaming officials concluded their own investigation into the donation and found no evidence of wrongdoing.

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