Gaming device maker Universal Entertainment Corp’s defamation lawsuit against the Thompson Reuters Corp and three Reuters journalists has been dismissed by a Japanese court.
In December 2012 Universal, the Japanese manufacturer of gaming products and publisher of video games controlled by billionaire Kazuo Okada, filed a $1.6 million defamation suit against Reuters. On Wednesday, the Tokyo District Court ruled that the Reuters articles published regarding $40 million in payments made to a consultant by Universal in relations to a Philippines casino project were true and that Universal’s claims were baseless.
The Japanese court’s presiding Judge Masaru Sakamoto wrote that the company, “did not establish illegal activity by defamation, as (the Reuters articles) either did not lower plaintiff Universal’s social reputation or even if they did, were without illegality,” according to Reuters.
A spokeswoman for Reuters said, “We’re pleased that the court has vindicated Reuters’ right to publish truthful news in the public interest. Our story was fair and accurate and shed light on an important issue about which the public had a right to know.”
The three-judge panel’s 40-page decision detailed the process reporters from Reuters followed in the November 2012 reporting of $40 million in payments Universal made to Rodolfo Soriano, former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PACGOR) consultant and close associate of the then head of the state-owned Philippine gaming authority; that the company was being investigated by the Nevada gambling regulator; and that two former employees of Universal were investigated by the Bureau of Investigation.
The Tokyo court said that the assertions in the Reuters published articles “can be accepted as true,” and that given the scale of Universal’s Philippines investment, they were in the public interest. Universal is based in Tokyo and formerly controlled 20 percent of Wynn Resorts. Lawyers have 14 days to appeal the court’s decision.