Las Vegas casino tycoon Steven Wynn ousted long-term partner Kazuo Okada from the board of his Wynn Macau unit on Friday, the latest drama in the 12-year partnership between the two that turned sour as the race to dominate Asia’s robust gaming market intensifies.
The move comes less than a week after Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) bought out co-founder and largest shareholder Okada’s $2.77 billion share at a steep 30% discount, and four days after the shunned partner said he would take legal action to block the board’s action.
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The fallout started when Okada filed a suit to block Wynn’s $135 million donation to a university in Macau, where he is seeking approval for a new casino.
Wynn, who serves as chief executive of the resort chain, later accused Okada of making improper payments to gambling regulators in the Philippines.
The two have accused the other of illegally trying to persuade regulators in Macau and the Philippines to gain approval for new casinos there. Demand for gaming in Asia has skyrocketed over the last few years.
Wynn’s accusations to an internal investigation led by a former FBI director, who found Okada to be “unsuitable” based on the Wynn Resorts’ regulations and in violation U.S. anti-corruption laws.
The nine-person board’s decision to remove Okada was effective immediately on Friday.
Despite his removal from the Macau board, Okada continues to sit on the Wynn Resorts board, which needs the backing of a shareholder meeting to remove him.
Okada has lashed out against the internal report, calling it “false and misleading.” He did not attend the board meeting on Friday that led to his un-seating.