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Japan court dismisses defamation suit against Wynn Resorts

TOKYO (Reuters) - A Tokyo court has dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada against U.S. casino operator Wynn Resorts and some of its top executives, saying the case should not be handled by a Japanese tribunal.

Wynn Resorts' legal representative in Japan confirmed on Tuesday the ruling in the case, which centers on Wynn Resorts' release in early 2012 of an English language report alleging business misconduct by Okada in South Korea and the Philippines.

The Tokyo District Court judge noted that the legal fight between Okada and Wynn Resorts was based in the United States, according to a copy of the ruling, which was made on Monday and seen by Reuters. The suit is one of several legal battles between Okada and his former business partner Wynn Resorts Chief Executive Steve Wynn.

The case was filed in August 2012 by the Japanese billionaire, one of his holding companies and Universal Entertainment <6425.T>, the $1.7 billion gaming machine maker he founded. Okada had sought 11.2 billion yen ($114 million) in damages from Wynn Resorts, Steve Wynn and other executives.

A spokesman for Universal, which is controlled by Okada through the holding company, declined to comment on the case. Okada's legal representative was not immediately available for comment.

Okada and his companies are under investigation in the United States for potential violations of anti-bribery laws in relation to a $2 billion casino project in the Philippines, according to a court filing made earlier this year by U.S. federal prosecutors.

The Department of Justice in the Philippines is also investigating Okada and his companies for possible bribery and violations of foreign ownership restrictions in setting up landholding companies for the casino project.

Okada has denied any wrongdoing in the Philippines.

Universal has filed a defamation suit against Reuters in Tokyo for its reporting on $40 million in payments made in relation to the casino project on Manila Bay. ($1 = 98.1450 Japanese yen)

(Reporting by Nathan Layne; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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