U.S.-based casino firm Wynn Resorts Ltd says it has hired an outside legal firm to “assist” a committee formed of some of the company’s independent directors reviewing sexual misconduct allegations against the group’s founder Steve Wynn. Monday’s press release also said there would be an “expanded and comprehensive review” of Wynn Resorts’ internal policies and procedures with the goal of “ensuring the company employs best practices to maintain a safe and respectful workplace for all employees”.
On Friday the Wall Street Journal reported that Wynn Resorts had stopped an independent investigation by law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP looking into Mr Wynn’s alleged conduct. The news outlet said the justification cited in a statement – attributed to the special committee – was that Mr Wynn had stepped down as the casino group’s chairman and chief executive on February 6.
Wynn Resorts said in late January it had formed a special committee consisting solely of independent directors to investigate the claims against Mr Wynn. Mr Wynn has denied the allegations of sexual misconduct.
In Monday’s statement,Wynn Resorts said its board would start a process to add further directors “to strengthen the composition, skills and experience” of the board.
Also on Monday, it named legal firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP as the outside counsel to assist with the special committee’s review.
Monday’s statement gave no timetable for adding members to the board. The committee also did not explain why it had decided to hire a new law firm to assist with the investigation.
The Wall Street Journal noted that Wynn Resorts had said it would set up a telephone hotline and Web portal for current and former Wynn Resorts employees to provide information about alleged sexual misconduct involving Mr Wynn.
On Monday it was also reported that the Nevada Gaming Control Board – which covers the Las Vegas market – had set up an online system for the public to send in confidential complaints and tips. Becky Harris, the recently-appointed chairwoman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, added that the move was initially in response to outside communication to the Control Board regarding Mr Wynn, but was being made permanent to handle any case that might be dealt with by the regulator.
On Friday it was also announced that Mr Wynn would no longer consider himself or his ex-wife Elaine Wynn as bound by a 2010 agreement he had contended gave him the right to vote her shares with his.
A Friday filing by Wynn Resorts clarified that Mr Wynn currently held 11.8 percent of the firm. According to previous company filings, Ms Wynn’s stake – at about 9.3 million shares – represents approximately a 9.4-percent interest in Wynn Resorts. Voted together, the shares of the ex-couple form a bigger block than any other single shareholder in the company.
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”We do not believe that reopening the advance notice nomination deadline [for board directors] is appropriate or justified”
Daniel Boone Wayson
Chairman of the Wynn Resorts board of directors