Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Sunday, July 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Steve Wynn Wasn’t Slandered; Case Over

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Casino mogul Steve Wynn's amended defamation complaint against an investment adviser was dismissed with prejudice this week, apparently ending the battle.

Wynn, CEO and chairman of the board of Wynn Resorts, claimed that James Chanos , owner of a private investment firm, defamed him during an April 25, 2014 conference on the Macau gaming industry, at the UC-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

Wynn, who runs casinos in Macau and the United States, claimed that Chanos defamed him and his company by saying: "Wynn and Wynn Resorts had violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)."

But U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick ruled that Wynn's amended complaint "disregards the plain language of what Chanos said," which was "describing the risk to his clients' money."

Wynn claimed that "Chanos asserted that the FCPA was in fact violated." But Orrick ruled: "Even adopting Wynn's interpretation of that statement, the fact remains that Chanos qualified it with assertions that the casino's actions were within the legal limit."

"Wynn has not pleaded any additional facts that would, if true, alter my prior ruling that Chanos's statements do not constitute slander per se," Orrick wrote.

Orrick in December dismissed without prejudice Wynn's initial defamation complaint against Chanos, which Wynn promptly renewed with an amended complaint.

On Tuesday, Orrick granted Chanos's motion to dismiss with prejudice and a motion to strike based on California's anti-SLAPP law.

Orrick also denied Wynn's pending motion for discovery.

Chanos made the statement at issue when a moderator asked why he was "shorting Macau in China," according to Orrick's December summary.

Chanos responded by saying he "got a little nervous the deeper we dug into Macau," Orrick wrote in December. Chanos said he "began to really get concerned about the risk I was taking with clients' money under Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and a variety of other, you know, aspects of exactly how business is done there."

Chanos said he was not comfortable with how "U.S. operators like Mr. [Sheldon] Adelson and Mr. Wynn" conducted business in Macau. Chanos said that while "they might be adhering to every aspect of legal requirements in what they were doing, there was still an attempt to mislead and an attempt to obfuscate.'"

Chanos later added: "Almost any company doing meaningful amounts of business in China probably could be found in violation of the FCPA."

Wynn initially sued Chanos for slander, citing rulings by the SEC and the Nevada Gaming Control Board that he claimed "exonerated Wynn of all alleged FCPA allegations."

But Chanos successfully sought dismissal, saying Wynn did not make a claim for which relief could be granted.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.