Japan’s Universal loses defamation appeal against Reuters

By Manuel Marti
The Supreme Court of Japan has denied an appeal by Universal Entertainment Corp against news agency Reuters.

The slot machine manufacturer lost the lawsuit due to the lack of groundings and merit to support their claims.

It began in 2012 when Reuters published a series of articles on Universal’s payments to the former head of the Philippine gaming authority, Roberto Soriano.

The agency reported that Universal Entertainment Corp paid over $40m to Soriano who was investigated over bribery. The articles alleged that improper money transactions were made in relation to a casino project in the Philippines.

Universal denies any mala praxis. Therefore, it sued Reuters against defamation, demanding over $1.5m and a public apology.

After two previous lower court hearings in which articles were found to be accurate, the gaming corporation took the case to Japan’s highest court earlier this month.

Okada Holdings, Universal’s main stakeholder (69%) has been recently involved in controversy. Last month, Kazuo Okada, former Okada CEO, stepped down from his role after corruption claims. Okada is being investigated over money transactions for personal gain.

Although these claims directly affect Soriano, the Philippines’ government has threatened to remove Okada's license to operate in the country. The former CEO was also ousted from US chain Wynn Resorts after being accused of improper payments to casino regulators from South Korea and the Philippines.

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