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Wynn Resorts Boots Director, Redeems Stake

NEW YORK (TheStreet) --The board of Wynn Resorts (WYNN) is booting company co-founder and director Kazuo Okada and forcibly buying out his stake in the company.

The moves follow what the company says was a year-long investigation into potentially improper payments to overseas gaming regulators by Okada and his associates. Okada was Wynn's largest shareholder.

They also come after the disclosure earlier this month that the Securities and Exchange Commission was looking into donations Wynn made to educational institutions in Macau, China, where Wynn operates casinos.

In a news release Saturday, Wynn Resorts said its own probe, led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, uncovered "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."

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All board members with the exception of Okada voted to request his resignation, the release said.

The board also has redeemed 24 million shares of Wynn Resorts owned by Aruze USA, of which Okada is the principal shareholder.

Based on Friday's closing level of $112.69, those shares have a market value of $2.7 billion.

But Wynn Resorts is compensating Okada with significantly less. The company said it will pay him $1.9 billion in 10 years. The payment is in line with Wynn's articles of incorporation, the release said.

The news release also said that Wynn on Saturday filed a lawsuit against Okada and his company's Aruze USA and Universal Entertainment Corp. in Nevada District Court for breach of fiduciary duty and related offenses.

Wynn Resorts operates high-end casinos in Las Vegas and Macau, China.

It's not the only U.S. casino company to be troubled with probes into potential overseas bribery.

Rival Las Vegas Sands (LVS) is being investigated for its compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Shares of Las Vegas Sands ended Friday down 47 cents at $52.79.

This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.

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