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Friday Roundup

The guidance is coming – the guidance is coming, compliance by the numbers, checking in on Wynn-Okada, industry news, and refreshing candor.  It’s all here in the Friday roundup.


Since Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer announced last November that the DOJ would be issuing FCPA guidance in 2012 (see here for the prior post), approximately 25 years after Congress encouraged the DOJ to issue guidance, FCPA Inc. has been waiting patiently, and too long (see here for the prior post), for such guidance.

There have been whispers that the guidance would be released in October and this recent Wall Street Journal Corruption Currents post by Chris Matthews, citing “people familiar with the matter” confirms those whispers.

Compliance Practices By The Numbers

What percentage of the Fortune 500 have publicly available, stand-alone FCPA compliance policies and procedures?  Do the policies and procedures include discussion of the FCPA’s books and records and internal control provisions?  How do companies  address facilitation payments?  What about gift-giving?

Answers can be found in this recent article in Corporate Counsel by Ryan McConnell (Baker & McKenzie), Jay Martin (Baker Hughes) and Paula Bonavides (a University of Houston law student).


Remember Kazuo Okada, the former business partner of Steve Wynn, accused of various FCPA violations by Wynn Resorts earlier this year?  Given the nature of Wynn’s  investigative report authored by former FBI Director Louie Freeh of Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan LLP (see this prior post which provides a detailed summary of the report) it is not surprising, as noted in this Reuters article, that Okada has filed a defamation lawsuit in Japan against the casino company and its officials.  According to the article, Okada is claiming $140 million in damages and he alleges that Wynn’s actions led to a decline in his company’s stock price, a decline in new business opportunities, and damaged his reputation.  As noted in the Reuters article, a Wynn spokesperson said that Okada’s lawsuit is an “attempt to distract” from the real issues facing Okada and his company “as identified in the Freeh Report.”

Industry News

Speaking of Freeh, in addition to his role in the Wynn-Okada dispute, he is also known in FCPA circles for being the monitor in the Daimler FCPA enforcement action.  (See here for the prior post).

As noted in this release from Pepper Hamilton LLP, the firm “and the lawyers of Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP  announced the union of the legal talent of the two firms and Pepper Hamilton’s acquisition of Freeh Group International Solutions, LLC.”

Refreshing Candor

FCPA Inc. participants are of course an active group of speakers.  But rarely does one find much candor in the discussions.  FCPA Inc. participants often filter what they say cognizant of client issues and mindful of what the small world of enforcement agency officials will think of them.  I’ve had numerous exchanges with industry participants in which a person says something insightful or provocative. I then offer up the opportunity to publish a guest post on FCPA Professor, and the person declines.

Against this backdrop, this recent transcript of the 2012 Chief Legal Officer Leadership Forum hosted by Argyle Executive Forum is a nice read in that Adam Siegel (the c0-chair of global white collar group at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer) speaks with refreshing candor.  Siegel (here, a former federal prosecutor) states as follows.

Regarding a compliance defense.

“Well, the U.K. act, even though it’s perceived as being broader and worse than the FCPA, has this wonderful feature to it, which is that a corporation is legally not responsible if it had adopted adequate procedures.  It’s a great argument that we can take to the business about why they ought to invest in an appropriate compliance program.  It means we’re actually innocent and you’re not begging some 27-year-old – apologies to anyone in the room of that age – to exercise their enormous discretion and give the corporation and shareholders a pass because some rogue employee in Indonesia has decided that they were going to do something to hit their targets this year.”

On the increase in FCPA enforcement.

“In 2005, due to some changes in personnel and some other issues of justice, someone realized that they can use this statute more aggressively.  If you think back to 2007, we had a major record in FCPA civil and criminal finds; $150 million.  I think people were amazed that in that year that was what the government was able to do.  Fast forward to 2010 and you’re at $1.8 billion.  I mean, if any of us in this room have a business that has grown at that rate, I think we’d all be very happy and our shareholders would be delighted.”

On the global trend of increased enforcement.

“I think some of it is pressure from globalization.  I think a lot of it is looking at the numbers on that chart.  I think a lot of the global anti-bribery movement is driven by regulators around the world saying, Okay, a German company just paid $300 million to the U.S.  That’s sort of funny to us.  Where are we in this? I think there is some international pressure.  There is the pressure of raising the bar, but there’s also a very cynical pressure of raising money.  We’re in an economic climate today where I don’t think there’s a single government in the world that isn’t struggling to find resource.  This area has emerged, again, as a money making center, which is kind of bizarre.”


A good weekend to all.

Friday Roundup

Wal-Mart news, the shadow regulatory state, save the date, checking in on Wynn-Okada, and there’s an app for that.

Wal-Mart News

Yesterday Wal-Mart released its first quarter financial results and stated as follows in its SEC filing.

The Audit Committee of the Company’s Board of Directors (the “Audit Committee”), which is composed solely of independent directors, is conducting an internal investigation into, among other things, alleged violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (the “FCPA”) and other alleged crimes or misconduct in connection with foreign subsidiaries including Wal-Mart de México, S.A.B. de C.V. (“Walmex”) and whether prior allegations of such violations and/or misconduct were appropriately handled by the Company. The Audit Committee and the Company have engaged outside counsel from a number of law firms and other advisors who are assisting in the on-going investigation of these matters. The Company is also conducting a voluntary global review of its policies, practices and internal controls for FCPA compliance. The Company is engaged in strengthening its global anti-corruption compliance programs through appropriate remedial anti-corruption measures. In November 2011, the Company voluntarily disclosed that investigative activity to the U.S. Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) and the SEC.

The Company has been informed by the DOJ and the SEC that it is also the subject of their respective investigations into possible violations of the FCPA. The Company is cooperating with the investigations by the DOJ and the SEC. A number of federal and local government agencies in Mexico have also recently initiated investigations of these matters. Walmex is cooperating with the Mexican governmental agencies conducting these investigations. Furthermore, lawsuits relating to the matters under investigation have recently been filed by several of the Company’s shareholders against it, its current directors, certain of its former directors, certain of its current and former officers and certain of Walmex’s current and former officers.

The Company could be exposed to a variety of negative consequences as a result of the matters noted above. There could be one or more enforcement actions in respect of the matters that are the subject of some or all of the ongoing government investigations, and such actions, if brought, may result in judgments, settlements, fines, penalties, injunctions, cease and desist orders or other relief, criminal convictions and/or penalties. The shareholder lawsuits may result in judgments against the Company and its current and former directors and officers named in those proceedings. The Company cannot predict accurately at this time the outcome or impact of the government investigations, the shareholder lawsuits, or its own internal investigation and review. In addition, the Company expects to incur costs in responding to requests for information or subpoenas seeking documents, testimony and other information in connection with the government investigations, in defending the shareholder lawsuits, and in conducting its internal investigation and review, and it cannot predict at this time the ultimate amount of all such costs. These matters may require the involvement of certain members of the Company’s senior management that could impinge on the time they have available to devote to other matters relating to the business. The Company may also see ongoing media and governmental interest in these matters that could impact the perception among certain audiences of its role as a corporate citizen.

The Company is in the early stages of assessing and responding to the governmental investigations, the shareholder lawsuits, and its internal investigation and review are on-going. Although the Company does not presently believe that these matters will have a material adverse effect on its business, given the inherent uncertainties in such situations, the Company can provide no assurance that these matters will not be material to its business in the future.

Wal-Mart stock closed yesterday at $61.68.  On Friday April 20th (the day before the New York Times article – see here for the prior post) Wal-Mart stock closed at $62.45.  See here for a recent Forbes column titled “Mexican Bribery Gave Me A Chance To Make Money In Wal-Mart” in which the contributor states as follows.  “My 30 years of experience in the markets has repeatedly shown to me that whenever a company is accused of violations of FCPA, headlines are always scary, but in the end, the downdraft in the stock invariably becomes a buying opportunity.”

In other Wal-Mart news, as highlighted in this prior post, Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Member, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Henry Waxman (D-CA), Ranking Member, House Committee on Energy and Commerce have taken a keen interest in Wal-Mart’s potential FCPA exposure.  Yesterday, the Congressmen sent this letter to Wal-Mart CEO Michael Dukes in which they state, among other things, that “we have obtained hundreds of internal documents relating to the Wal-Mart bribery allegations.”

The Shadow Regulatory State

In this previous post, I called for the abolition of non-prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements in the FCPA context.  I noted how use of NPAs and DPAs to resolve alleged corporate criminal liability in the FCPA context present two distinct, yet equally problematic public policy issues and highlighted other critiques of NPAs and DPAs as well.

This recent report titled “The Shadow Regulatory State:  The Rise of Deferred Prosecution Agreements” by James Copland (Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research) caught my eye.  Copland states as follows.

“… [P]rosecutors’ virtually unchecked powers under DPAs and NPAs threaten our constitutional framework. To be sure, prosecutors are acting upon duly enacted laws, but federal criminal provisions are often vague or ambiguous, and the fact that prosecutors and large corporations alike feel obliged to reach agreement, rather than follow an orderly regulatory process and litigate disagreements in court, denies the judiciary an opportunity to clarify the boundaries of such laws. Instead, the laws come to mean what the prosecutors say they mean—and companies do what the prosecutors say they must. Federal prosecutors are thus assuming the role of judge (interpreting the law) and of legislature (setting broad policy choices about industry conduct), substantially eroding the separation of powers. That such discretion is often delegated to private contractors with sweeping powers—namely, corporate monitors—makes the denial of justice even graver.”

Save the Date

I am pleased to be participating in this June 5th program sponsored by The American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section and the ABA Center for Continuing Legal Education in cooperation with Dorsey & Whitney & LLP, and  Pepper Hamilton, LLP.  Titled “The New Era of FCPA Enforcement and the Collapse of the Africa Sting Cases:  Time to Reevaluate?” the program will “evaluate the impact of Africa Sting cases in view of key New Era trends,  calls for FCPA reform, and a reevaluation of the prosecution standards utilized  by the DOJ and the SEC in enforcing statutes.”  Panelists include DOJ, SEC, and OECD representatives, Stanley Sporkin and noted FCPA practitioners including Greg Andres (former DOJ who testified on behalf of the DOJ at the November 2010 Senate and June 2011 House FCPA hearings).


Remember that Wynn-Okada dispute?  (See here, here, here, and here for the prior posts).

Here is an update from Vegas Inc.

There’s An App For That

Click 4 Compliance recently launched “C4C Mobile Compliance Officer App” (see here).  In a release (here) the company says the free mobile app “places practical anti-corruption compliance tips (including the FCPA and UK Bribery Act) in the hands of your company’s workforce and partners.”


It’s an FCPA world – a good weekend to all.

Okada Cites “Federal Interest In The Uniform Interpretation Of The FCPA” In Seeking To Remove Wynn Complaint To Federal Court

Previous posts here, here and here have discussed the battle royale between Wynn Resorts and its Director Kazuo Okada and his companies.  The dispute has included Okada accusing Wynn of conduct that could implicate the FCPA and Wynn also accusing Okada of separate and distinct conduct that could implicate the FCPA.  It is a rare instance of the FCPA being used offensively to seemingly accomplish business objectives.

Yesterday, attorneys for Kazuo Okada’s companies, Aruze USA, Inc. and Universal Entertainment Corporation, filed a notice of removal (here) in the U.S. District Court, District of Nevada.  The notice of removal asserts that the wide-ranging civil complaint previously filed by Wynn Resorts in Nevada state court depends “on the resolution of a substantial, disputed federal question regarding the scope and interpretation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”  The notice of removal states that Wynn’s state court complaint seeks a “judicial declaration confirming [Wynn’s] conclusion that Defendants are ‘unsuitable’ because they violated the FCPA.”

Under the heading “Uniform Interpretation of the FCPA”, the notice of removal states that “there is an important federal interest in the uniform interpretation of the FCPA” and “given the exclusive federal jurisdiction over criminal and injunctive relief for FCPA violations, and the potential for conflicting interpretations of the ambiguous statutory language, [the federal court] should retain subject matter jurisdiction to ensure that the federal law relating to the FCPA is interpreted in a uniform manner.”

FCPA caselaw is sparse.  Because of the “carrots” and “sticks’ relevant to resolving criminal FCPA enforcement actions (as well as the SEC’s neither admit nor deny settlement policy), few corporate or individual FCPA defendants put the enforcement agencies to their burden of proof and thus many FCPA enforcement theories escape judicial scrutiny.

This is what makes the Wynn-Okada dispute so tantalizing for FCPA followers.  The civil dispute implicating the FCPA is between well funded rivals who are staking out litigation positions (including as to the FCPA) that are likely to result in judicial scrutiny.

Separately yesterday, attorneys for Kazuo Okada’s companies, Aruze USA, Inc. and Universal Entertainment Corporation filed an expansive counterclaim and answer.  As to Wynn’s $135 million donation to the University of Macau (see here for the prior post), the counterclaim and answer states as follows.  The donation “suspiciously … covers essentially the same 10-year period” as Wynn Macau’s current gaming concession, that Okada was “concerned about the lack of deliberation of the boards of Wynn Resorts and Wynn Macau” in approving the donation, and that the “Chancellor of University of Macau is also the head of Macao’s government, with ultimate oversight of gaming matters.”  As to the Freeh Report (see here for the prior post), the counterclaim and answer states that “Freeh was not preparing an objective report of the facts by an ‘independent’ investigator – he was providing the [Wynn] Board with an argumentative document as an advocate against Mr. Okada.”

Wynn – Okada And Offensive Use Of The FCPA

Rarely does one hear of offensive use of the FCPA to accomplish a business objective.  Usually it is the other way around – the FCPA thwarts a business objective such as acquiring a foreign target, not hiring the foreign agent who says he knows a way to get that lucrative contract, etc.

But then again, rarely does one hear of a corporate board member accusing the company of conduct that could implicate the FCPA, which then causes the SEC to open an inquiry, which then results in the company accusing the board member of separate and distinct conduct that could implicate the FCPA.

This post discusses Wynn’s internal investigation report that accuses Kazuo Okada (a member of its board) of prima facie FCPA violations.  For previous posts on the Wynn-Okada dispute, see here and here.  The Wynn internal investigation report (here) discusses a number of issues (such as breach of fiduciary duty, issues under Nevada gaming laws and issues under Philippine law), but this post will focus on the FCPA issues in the report authored Louis Freeh (former Director of the FBI) of Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan LLP.

In summary, the Freeh Report states as follows.  “Mr. Okada, his associates and companies appear to have engaged in a longstanding practice of making payments and gifts to his two (2) chief gaming regulators at the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (“PAGCOR”), who directly oversee and regulate Mr. Okada’s Provisional Licensing Agreement to operate in that country.  Since 2008, Mr. Okada and his associates have made multiple payments to and on behalf of these chief regulators, former PAGCOR Chairman Efraim Genuino and Chairman Cristino Naguiat (his current chief regulator), their families and PAGCOR associates, in an amount exceeding $110,000.”  The report categorizes this conduct as “prima facie violations” of the FCPA.

Because jurisdiction will clearly be an issue in any potential FCPA enforcement action against Okada (a Japanese national currently serving as Director and Chairman of the Board of Universal Entertainment Corporation, a Japanese company), the Freeh Report sensibly begins with a jurisdictional analysis.

According to the report, Aruze USA Inc. (“Aruze USA”) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Universal incorporated in Nevada and Okada is a Director of Aruze USA and serves as its President, Secretary, and Treasurer.  In addition, the report states that Okada also currently serves as a Director, Secretary, and Treasurer of Aruze Gaming America, Inc. (“Aruze Gaming”), a U.S. company.

Thus, based on the information in the Freeh report, depending upon which “hat” Okada wears at any given time, he is, in the language of the FCPA, a “domestic concern” or “any person other than an issuer or a domestic concern.”  The Freeh Report covers both bases and correctly notes that FCPA violations can be committed by a “domestic concern” regardless of any U.S. nexus (this was part of the FCPA’s 1998 amendments), but that FCPA violations can be committed by “any person” only if the “while in the territory of the U.S.” jurisdictional test is met.  If Okada is merely “any person” under the FCPA, the Freeh Report states that “means or instrumentalties of interstate commerce” were used by Okada.  Specifically, the Freeh Report states that many of Okada payments at issue passed through the accounts (either the Universal City Ledger Account or the Aruze City Ledger Account) “maintained at the corporate offices of Wynn Resorts, Limited in Las Vegas, Nevada where periodic deposits are made from Universal into the Wynn Resorts, Limited operating account at Bank of America in Las Vegas, Nevada.”

Back to the Freeh Report’s discussion of Philippine PAGCOR Officials at Wynn Resort properties.  The report highlights 36 “separate instances, from May 2008 through June 2011 when Mr. Okada, his associates and companies made payments exceeding $110,000 which directly benefited senior PAGCOR officials, including two chairman and their family members.”  For starters, 35 of the 36 instances involve charges to the Aruze City Ledger account in amounts ranging from $253 to $5,380 for stays (generally multi-night stays) at the Wynn Macau or Wynn Las Vegas.  As separately discussed below, the one instance that sticks out is the September 2010 stay of various PAGCOR officials at the Wynn Macau for which approximately $50,000 was charged to the Aruze City Ledger.

The Freeh Report terms all of these instances “prima facie” FCPA violations, a term presumably chosen carefully because as every first-year law student knows “prima facie” means on first appearance, on the face of it, a fact presumed to be true unless disproved by some evidence to the contrary.

It is here that the Freeh Report is shockingly deficient as it does not contain any discussion of the FCPA’s affirmative defense for payments, gifts, etc. that are a “reasonable and bona fide expenditure, such as travel and lodging expenses, incurred by or on behalf of a foreign official … directly related to (a) the promotion, demonstration, or explanation of products or services; or (b) the execution or performance of a contract with a foreign government or agency thereof.”  The Freeh Report notes, yet disagrees with, Okada’s assertion that “all his efforts in the Philippines prior to the change of presidential administration in the summer of 2010 were undertaken on behalf of and for the benefit of Steve Wynn and Wynn Resorts.”  Summer 2010 is obviously a vague term, but Okada’s assertion could be relevant to 23 of the 36 instances detailed in the Freeh Report.

The one instance identified in the Freeh Report that sticks out is approximately $50,000 charged to the Aruze City Ledger in September 2010 for a five day stay at the Wynn Macau by “then and current PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Cristino L. Naguiat, Jr., his wife, three children, nanny and other PAGCOR officials.”  The Freeh Report devotes five pages to this visit and states, among other things, that Chairman Naguiat occupied Villa 81 (the most expensive accommodation at Wynn Macau – a room that costs approximately $6,000 per day and is mostly reserved for “high-rollers”).  Even if Chairman Naguiat and his delegation visited the resort, in whole or in part, for a business purpose it is unlikely that such expenses would be viewed as “reasonable and bona fide” and directly related to a business purpose – even if the Freeh Report does note that some of the charges may have been reimbursed by Chairman Naguiat’s delegation.

In addition, the Freeh Report says that “Mr. Okada, his associates and companies” made “similar payments to a Korean government official who oversees Mr. Okada’s initial gaming investment in that country.”  The report notes that Okada was pursuing development of a resort complex in the Incheon Free Economic Zone and the report notes six instances in which “possible Korean government officials” stayed at Wynn properties.  Total charges to the Aruze City Account were $5,945 and ranged from $507 to $1,597.  The Freeh Report states that “these payments made for or on behalf of possible Korean government officials may be part of a continuing pattern by Mr. Okada and his associates to commit prima facie violations of the FCPA.”

Finally, the Freeh Report also states that “Universal paid expenses related to then-PAGCOR Chairman Genuino’s trip to Beijing during the 2008 Olympics.

Have there been FCPA enforcement actions focused on excessive and travel entertainment expenses paid to “foreign officials”?  The answer is yes.  In 2007, Lucent Technologies resolved related DOJ and SEC enforcement actions (see here and here) focused on hundreds of trips for Chinese “foreign officials” that included primarily sightseeing, entertainment and leisure.  According to the allegations in that enforcement action, Chinese “foreign officials” were treated to trips to Boston, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Hawaii “for strictly entertainment, travel and leisure purposes.”  In 2009 UTStarcom resolved related DOJ and SEC enforcement actions (see here for the prior post) focused on hundreds of trips for Chinese “foreign officials” that likewise were to places such as Hawaii, Las Vegas, and New York.

However, in pointing numerous FCPA fingers at Okada, even the Freeh Report points a few fingers back at Wynn.  For instance, as to the accounts Okada allegedly used to make the improper payments the report states as follows.

“As a Director of Wynn Resorts, Mr. Okada is entitled to receive the courtesy of what is called a “City Ledger Account.”  Such accounts were originally instituted as a result of Sarbanes Oxley’s prohibition of extensions of credit, in the form of a personal loan from an issuer to an officer or director.  The accounts were funded by deposits from the director or his company.  Such an account exists for billing conveniences related to charges incurred at various Wynn Resorts locales.  Mr. Okada has availed himself of this courtesy and established such a City Ledger Account.  Within Wynn Resorts, this Okada City Ledger Account is referred to either as the “Universal City Ledger Account” or as the “Aruze City Ledger Account.””

Elsewhere, the Freeh Report states that funds in connection with the problematic September 2010 visit were “advanced from the Wynn Macau” to a representative of Aruze USA.

In other words, while accusing Okada of committing “prima facie” FCPA violations through his use of the accounts, including the September 2010 visit, the Freeh Report acknowledges that the accounts were provided to him by Wynn as a courtesy for billing conveniences related to charges incurred at various Wynn Resort locales and that portions of the money used in connection with the problematic September 2010 visit were advanced from the Wynn Macau.

The Freeh Report puts the DOJ (and perhaps even the SEC given Okada’s membership on the Wynn Board) in a difficult position.  How can the agencies not investigate the conduct at issue when the former Director of the FBI is terming the conduct “prima facie” FCPA violations.  An analogy would be like calling the fire department to inform that your house is on the fire, but the fire department fails to show up.  Based on media reports, it appears that the agencies are indeed in active investigation mode.  According to a Feb. 24th article in the Financial Times (“US Probes Wynn Resorts’ Allegations), “the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s investigation is looking into allegations that Mr Okada made at least $110,000 in unauthorised payments to two gaming officials in the Philippines” and last week “Wynn’s attorney, Debra Yang, a partner with Gibson Dunn &  Crutcher and former US attorney for the Los Angeles area, flew to Washington and met with criminal prosecutors at the Department of Justice.”

Does the Freeh Report and the FCPA allegations against Okada evidence offensive use of the FCPA to accomplish a business objective?  The FCPA allegations against Okada – a Wynn business rival – contributed to a finding that Okada was “unsuitable” under Nevada gaming regulations, which then facilitated Wynn’s purchase of Okada’s Wynn shares at a substantial discount.

Another way of asking the same question is as follows – if the Freeh report found the same exact conduct (i.e. 36 instances – 35 of which were very minor in scope, totaling $110,000 involving a person other than Okada) would Wynn have gone public with such “prima facie” FCPA violations through a voluntary disclosure?  I highly doubt it.

By publicly stating that Okada’s conduct (36 instances of lodging expenses and entertainment for “foreign officials” – 35 of which were very minor in scope) evidences “prima facie” FCPA violations, is Wynn opening itself up to greater scrutiny as to its own relationships with the “foreign officials” which regulate its businesses abroad?  Is Wynn supremely confident that someone associated with the company did not charge $253 to a corporate account for a “foreign official” to stay a night at one of its hotels?  Did Wynn leave a chocolate for the “foreign official” on his pillow or pay for a fancy dinner?

In a strange twist to the story, yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that Wynn competitor Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson stated that “complimentary hotel rooms is a common practice in the gambling industry.”  Las Vegas Sands is already under FCPA scrutiny (see here for the prior post) and if that investigation was not already focused on travel and entertainment issues, you can bet it is headed in that direction.

I agree with Professor Peter Henning who writes the White Collar Crime Watch at the New York Times that Wynn’s accusations against Okada “open up a can of worms” (see here) and that Wynn’s accusations “means the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission will be scouring the company’s books for possible violations, a front that neither side can control” and that “by invoking the specter of overseas bribery, Wynn has effectively opened itself up to a wide-ranging federal investigation of its dealings in Macao and elsewhere.”

The question Wynn will have to ask itself as this presumably goes forward is whether it was worth using the unhinged FCPA enforcement theories defining this new era to oust a business rival?

As to the big, big picture, if the DOJ or SEC do bring an enforcement action against Okada (or Wynn) for the conduct described in the Freeh Report, are we prepared to confront the glaring double standard increasingly coming into focus during this new era of FCPA enforcement?  For more on the double standard and corporate benefits given to U.S. officials, see here, here, here, and here.

Wynn’s Boardroom Battle Royale

[There are two posts today]

Rarely does a company issue a press release accusing a director of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations.  But then again, rarely does a director file a lawsuit against the company alleging facts that could implicate the FCPA, which then sets into motion an SEC inquiry.

Welcome to Wynn Resorts boardroom battle royale.

As indicated in this prior post, in January, Wynn boardmember Kazuo Okada filed a civil lawsuit in Nevada alleging facts which could implicate the FCPA – a $135 million Wynn donation to the University of Macau.  As noted in the post, last week Wynn announced that the SEC has launched an inquiry requesting information relating to the donation, other donations made by the company and the company’s “casino or concession gaming licenses or renewals in Macau.”

Yesterday, in a Sunday press release (here), Wynn announced that its “Compliance  Committee has concluded a year-long investigation after receiving an  independent report detailing numerous apparent violations of the U.S.  Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by Aruze USA, Inc. [see here], its parent company Universal Entertainment Corporation [see here] and its principal shareholder, Kazuo Okada.”

Okada’s bio on Wynn’s website (here) states as follows.  “Mr. Okada founded Universal Lease Co. Ltd., which became Aruze Corp. in 1998, a company listed on the Japanese Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation Securities Exchange. In November 2009, Aruze Corp. changed its name to Universal Entertainment Corporation. Universal Entertainment Corporation a Japanese manufacturer of pachislot and pachinko machines, amusement machines, and video games for domestic sales. In 1983, Mr. Okada also founded Universal Distributing Nevada, Inc., which changed its name to Aruze Gaming America, Inc. in 2005. Aruze Gaming America, Inc. is a manufacturer and distributor of gaming machines and devices in the United States and is expanding its sales business in Asia, Australia and South Africa. Mr. Okada currently serves as director and Chairman of the board of Universal Entertainment Corporation, as director, President, Secretary and Treasurer of Aruze USA, Inc., which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Universal Entertainment Corporation, and as director, President, Secretary and Treasurer of Aruze Gaming America, Inc.”

In yesterday’s release, Wynn further stated as follows.  “The Compliance Committee, chaired by former Nevada Governor Robert Miller, engaged several investigators, including Freeh, Sporkin and Sullivan, LLP, led by Louis J. Freeh, the former Director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, which conducted a thorough independent investigation. Freeh’s investigators uncovered and documented more than three dozen instances over a three-year period in which Mr. Okada and his associates engaged in improper activities for their own benefit in apparent violation of U.S. anti-corruption laws and gross disregard for the Company’s Code of Conduct. These troubling discoveries include cash payments and gifts totaling approximately$110,000 to foreign gaming      regulators.  “Mr. Okada and his associates and companies appear to have engaged in a longstanding practice of making payments and gifts to his two chief gaming regulators at the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), who directly oversee and regulated Mr. Okada’s Provisional Licensing Agreement to operate in that country,” according to the Freeh Report. The report further stated that Mr. Okada and his associates have “consciously taken active measures to conceal both the nature and amount of these payments.””

Based on the Freeh Report, the Wynn releases states as follows.  “The Board has requested that Mr. Okada resign as a Director of Wynn Resorts. The Company will immediately inform the Board of Directors of its Hong Kong listed subsidiary, Wynn Macau, Limited, of its actions and will recommend that Mr. Okada be removed from the Wynn Macau Board.”  […] “The Freeh Report is the culmination of a year-long investigation by the Compliance Committee based on increasing concerns the Board had relating      to the activities of Mr. Okada and Aruze USA, Inc. in the Philippines and statements made by Mr. Okada to Wynn Resorts’ Directors that gifts to regulators are permissible in Asia. Mr. Okada is the only Director of Wynn Resorts who has continued to refuse to sign the Company’s Code of Conduct or participate in mandatory Foreign Corrupt Practices Act training for Directors.”

To learn more, see here from Reuters.

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