|Wembley’s CEO Nigel Potter has been indicted on a $4.5m (£2.8m) bribery charge in the US state of Rhode Island. Potter is stepping down defend himself on charges issued on Tuesday after a 12-month investigation by a Federal Grand Jury. |
Few of the total of 22-counts indictment allege:
- Conspiracy to pay US law firm McKinnon & Harwood up to $4.5m over six years to 'improperly influence' local politicians and officials.
- Bribes were given to win approval for more than 1,000 more video lottery machines
- Obtaining authorization of coin-based rather than redeemable paper chit-based machines
-Blocking legislation that would allow the development of a rival gambling casino in Rhode Island by the Narragansett-Indian tribe.
- Efforts to couch the money as 'a legitimate payment' for legal services, when the payment was intended as a bribe to former Rhode Island House Speaker John B Harwood and other public officials
Chairman Claes Hultman and CEO Potter claim that the charges are without foundation and that no U.S law was broken. However, the news took an immediate toll on the company’s financial health. Wembley’s share price took a 20 percent plummet in the share price, leaving it 140p lower at 522 1/2p and wiped off £47.55m from the company's value.
Analyst’s Merrill Lynch, downgraded the stock from neutral to an outright sell.
London residents may remember Wembley for hosting the Alf Ramsey's 1966 World Cup heroes. Wembley Plc now generates 95% of its cash from the US and sold its stadium in 1999 for £103m. Later it cut its ties with northwest London last August when it sold the neighboring conference center and exhibition hall. Wembley’s core competence and revenues now comes from greyhound tracks and slot machines.