The Securities and Exchange Commission is getting involved in a dispute between members of the board of directors of Wynn Resorts Inc. One board member, a Japanese casino mogul who owns 20 percent of the Las Vegas-based company, recently sued Wynn Resorts over a $135 million donation it made to the University of Macau, implying that it did so to gain favor with the Macau government to protect its gaming concession there.
We previously discussed this litigation between Wynn board members, including company founder Steve Wynn, in our Feb. 6 blog post. Wynn and the board of directors approved the donation in May 2011 by a vote of 15-1. The lone dissenting vote was by the Japanese board member. The company says that at the time, the man objected only to the length of time over which the multi-million dollar donation would be spread out, not whether it was proper.
But now the board member is expressing displeasure over the donation. He filed a lawsuit in Nevada court asking for financial data related to the donation that he says was wrongfully withheld from him. In his lawsuit, he notes that the final payment is due in 2022, the year that Wynn’s Macau company’s gaming license expires.
As the lawsuit makes its way through the court – the next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 23 – the SEC has begun an “informal inquiry” into the dispute. Wynn Resorts said that the agency sent it a letter asking the company to save all information related to the donation to the university and its Macau gaming license.
Source: Reuters, “Wynn Resorts says SEC seeks Macau donation details,” Chris Jonathan Peters, Feb. 15, 2012