Japan’s Universal Entertainment Corp (UEC), the ultimate parent of Philippine casino resort Okada Manila, said in a Wednesday press release the group would “immediately file criminal charges,” due to what it termed “serious criminal offences” allegedly committed on the resort’s premises on Tuesday. That included “trespassing, obstruction of business, unlawful occupation, theft, assault, injury and incitement” by “several persons under the direction of Mr Kazuo Okada, a former director of the company,” added the statement.
Universal Entertainment has been running Okada Manila via Philippine firm Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc (TRLEI). Mr Okada contends he now controls the Philippine entity, following a Philippine Supreme Court order in April. A press release in his name, issued on Tuesday, said he was once again leading the resort.
But Universal Entertainment said in its Wednesday statement Mr Okada’s representatives had on Tuesday “illegally and violently entered and occupied Okada Manila premises”. Mr Okada founded Universal Entertainment and led it until 2017, when he was ousted after being accused of fraud, allegations he denies.
In 2017, Mr Okada had also been ousted from the TRLEI board, and the latter’s immediate parent, privately-held Hong Kong company, Tiger Resort Asia Ltd.
Universal Entertainment said the representatives of Mr Okada that entered the casino resort premises on Tuesday, included: “Mr Tonyboy Cojuangco, a former director of TRLEI, and Mr Dindo Espeleta, a building contractor, who, accompanied by approximately 50 Parañaque City police officers and private security guards and others, illegally and unceremoniously forced several TRLEI officers and employees to leave the premises and illegally dismissed key employees without any authority.”
The Japanese conglomerate added: “There are no administrative or judicial permits, orders, etc. to justify their actions, and these are serious criminal offences committed illegally and violently.”
In a separate press release, Mr Okada’s side said there was “no truth to the allegation that representatives of Kazuo Okada, made up of ’50 goons’ conducted a ‘violent’ and ‘illegal’ takeover” of Okada Manila. “The fact of the matter is that Mr Okada’s representatives included members of the Philippine National Police, four sheriffs, and [their presence was] witnessed by representatives of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor),” added the statement.
GGRAsia has approached Pagcor, the country’s casino regulator, for comment on the Okada Manila incident.
Mr Okada’s side said additionally that the businessman had been “reinstated as sole representative” of Tiger Resort Asia and chairman and chief executive of Okada Manila.
But Universal Entertainment asserted that Tiger Resort Asia, “having 99.9 percent of TRLEI’s voting rights, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company and a Hong Kong company, which is thus not under the jurisdiction of Philippine courts nor subject to the effect of the… order dated 27 April 2022, issued by the Philippine Supreme Court”.
The Japanese group stated that its own associates were in place at TRLEI at the instruction of Tiger Resort Asia, “in accordance with the law and will continue to be responsible for the management of TRLEI”.
It added that a liability for damages lawsuit brought by the company against Mr Okada had “already been confirmed”, as Mr Okada’s had lost a final decision in Japan’s Supreme Court, in September 2021.
(Updated at 8.25am, Jun 2)
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