Japan’s Universal Entertainment Corp says it “will make efforts to normalise” the operations of the Okada Manila casino resort, in the Philippine capital. In a statement on Monday, the Japanese conglomerate also said it would be “examining” the financial impact of the past three months, a period during which the property was controlled by a group linked to the group’s ousted founder, Kazuo Okada.
The statement comes after an order from the country’s gaming regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), that returned control of Okada Manila to the Universal Entertainment group.
On May 31, representatives of Mr Okada physically occupied the Okada Manila complex, with his side mentioning a Supreme Court order from late April that had restored the board of Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc (TRLEI) to how it was before his ousting from TRLEI in 2017.
But on Sunday, the Universal Entertainment side said it had taken over the operations of the casino resort, stating that Pagcor had reversed its recognition earlier in the year of the board claimed by Mr Okada’s side to be in control of TRLEI, and which he had been using to run Okada Manila.
In Monday’s statement, the Japanese conglomerate said that Mr Okada’s side had “wrongfully dismissed key employees”, and “discharged employees” in a number of departments at Okada Manila. It also accused Mr Okada’s representatives of “wrongfully” seizing assets and “destroying” key documents, including business contracts.
Universal Entertainment acknowledged that Mr Okada would remain on the TRLEI board as “stockholder, director, chairman and chief executive”, as per the Philippine Supreme Court order in April. “Mr Okada will remain as a director of TRLEI” until a final decision on the long-running ownership dispute “is made by the Supreme Court,” said the company, adding that it expected a decision by the court later this year.
Also on Monday, the reinstated board of TRLEI announced the scheduling of a meeting of its board of directors for Wednesday (September 7). It called on all its directors to attend the meeting, including Mr Okada.
“The TRLEI board looks forward to the full resumption of normality at Okada Manila, and looks forward to Mr Kazuo Okada’s participation in the scheduled board meeting,” stated the operator of the Okada Manila resort.
The statement said however that representatives of Mr Okada, that had overseen the resort’s operations for the past three months, would “not be allowed entrance to the Okada Manila property.” The five-person list included Antonio Cojuangco and Dindo Espeleta.
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”This new venture [with PH Resorts] is aligned with our strategy to increase our footprint in the Philippines, given our remarkable success with Okada Manila”
President and COO of the operator of Okada Manila