Japanese gaming entrepreneur Kazuo Okada (pictured in a file photo) pleaded on Friday “not guilty” to grave coercion charges during an arraignment at the Metropolitan Trial Court of Paranaque Branch 91, in Manila, the Philippine capital. Three others pled not guilty to the same offence, according to a statement sent to GGRAsia by Mr Okada’s communications team.
The “grave coercion” and other charges were filed against Mr Okada relating to his May 31 physical takeover of the Okada Manila casino resort in the Philippine capital. The same charges had also been filed against three of his associates: Antonio Cojuangco, Dindo Espeleta, and legal counsel Binky Herrera.
“Kazuo Okada and his group reiterate that they will face the allegation in a just and very honest way and fight until full justice is obtained,” said lawyer Rico Quicho, Mr Okada’s official spokesperson, in a statement.
He added: “The group remains confident that these grave coercion cases will be dismissed for utter failure of the prosecution to prove its charges with the quantum of evidence required in criminal cases, which is proof beyond reasonable doubt.”
Another court said to be involved in the matters – Metropolitan Trial Court of Paranaque Branch 90 – has set arraignment and pre-trial hearings for Mr Okada on November 7 and December 5, respectively, according to a previous release from Japan’s Universal Entertainment Corp, the founding parent of Okada Manila.
Philippine police arrested Mr Okada on October 17 at Manila’s airport when he landed after a flight from Japan. The Japanese businessman was released on bail on the same day, according to a statement sent to GGRAsia by his representatives.
Mr Okada founded Universal Entertainment, and also Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc, the operator of Okada Manila, but was ousted from both entities in June 2017, accused of fraud. He has denied wrongdoing.
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