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U.S. judge throws out slander lawsuit filed by casino mogul Wynn
December 17, 2014 / 6:41 PM / 3 years ago

U.S. judge throws out slander lawsuit filed by casino mogul Wynn

Dec 17 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge has dismissed Steve Wynn’s lawsuit accusing prominent short-seller Jim Chanos of slander over an alleged statement that the casino mogul violated a U.S. anti-bribery law.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick in San Francisco ruled on Tuesday that Chanos was giving an opinion protected under the U.S. Constitution.

Wynn, who heads Wynn Resorts Ltd, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. Chanos declined to comment.

Chanos, founder of New York-based hedge fund Kynikos Associates LP, mentioned Wynn during an April conference in Berkeley, California, about gambling and corruption in Macau.

Chanos told the conference he was concerned about risks casino operators face because of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars U.S.-listed companies from bribing government officials anywhere in the world.

Chanos also said, according to Orrick’s ruling: “Almost any company doing meaningful amounts of business in China probably could be found in violation of the FCPA.”

Orrick said in a written opinion: “This comment is clearly hyperbolic and cannot be considered to be defamatory.”

Wynn, 72, sued in September, saying Chanos’ comments were false and defamatory, made with reckless disregard of the truth and wrongly suggested that he violated a criminal law.

In rejecting those claims, the judge also ruled that Chanos did not act maliciously. Under U.S. protections for free speech, a public figure who sues for slander generally must show that a speaker acted with “actual malice.”

Wynn is worth $3 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

Chanos is known for shorting Enron Corp stock, or betting that it would go down rather than up, months before the energy trader’s December 2001 bankruptcy.

The case is Wynn et al v. Chanos, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 14-4329. (Reporting by Andrew Chung in New York; Editing by David Ingram and Lisa Von Ahn)

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