Okada Manila operations returned to Universal Entertainment

Published on: September 4, 2022, 12:53 p.m.

Last updated: September 4, 2022, 12:54 p.m.

Okada Manila’s reign has been returned to Universal Entertainment Corporation after about three months of being run by 79-year-old Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada.

Okada casino Manila Philippines
A fight breaks out at Okada Manila between two parties who each claim to be the rightful operators of the casino resort in the Philippines. The Kazuo Okada Group has since been delisted, but the billionaire retains his position on the board. (Picture: ABS-CBN News)

The corporate offices of the Philippine Integrated Casino Complex in Manila’s Entertainment City were raided on May 31 by a group led by Kazuo. The event took place after the Supreme Court of the Philippines ordered Okada Manila’s immediate parent company – Tiger Resort, Leisure & Entertainment, Inc. (TRLEI) – to resume its board at the 2017 arrangement, when Okada was a director and chairman.

TRLEI forcibly removed Okada from the organization that oversees his namesake casino in 2017 amid allegations that he was using the company’s money for his personal use, allegations the billionaire has repeatedly denied. Since then, Okada has sought to regain control of TRLEI and its parent company, Universal Entertainment.

Okada says TRLEI’s actions in 2017 were the work of his adult children with whom he no longer has a relationship. His children are the largest shareholders of Universal and TRLEI.

The government restores order

The ousted TRLEI management said the Supreme Court’s Status Quo Ante Order (SQAO) did not give Okada the right to bring in its own corporate officers to manage Okada Manila.

The Philippine Department of Justice, in response to TRLEI seeking clarification on its rights, said the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) should decide the legal management firm of the P2.4 billion casino complex. USD. The Justice Department’s opinion explained that the Supreme Court’s order meant only that TRLEI must restore Kazuo’s 2017 positions at the company.

We believe that the status quo ante order of the Supreme Court only mandated the reinstatement of Mr. Okada as a shareholder, director, president and CEO of TRLEI. It did not authorize him to reconvene or form a new board of directors,” Justice Secretary Jesus Remulla said in his opinion.

PAGCOR hastily acted, ordering the Kazuo group out of the Okada Manila headquarters through a resolution and placing the pre-June 1 TRLEI executive and management team back in their offices.

A statement from Universal Entertainment said the change of government was “generally peaceful”. The Philippine National Police assisted PAGCOR in executing the order.

PAGCOR ordered Dindo Espeleta, Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco, Maximo Modesto Joel Flores, Tetsuya Yokota and Hiroshi Kawamura to “cease and desist from performing their functions in connection with the operations of the Okada Manila Casino.” TRLEI subsequently reinstated its key executives to their roles.

Possible murder observed

Okada Manila’s reinstated rule says there were alleged sightings of potentially criminal activities while serving PAGCOR’s order to the Kazuo faction.

“Despite last-minute efforts by the illegally appointed board of directors to sabotage the transition by deactivating most of the property’s elevators for several hours, including those for customers, management and operations of Okada Manila have been handed over to the board led by TRLEI President Byron. Yes and I am fully under their control from Friday. There is also CCTV video footage of the Kazuo Group destroying documents in Hotel Room 866, which was used as a management office, and employee Gilbert Giazon removing boxes of documents from the property,” Universal’s statement disputed.

Universal concluded by saying that Kazuo Okada will remain a board member in view of SQAO. But the company added that his future with Universal will be decided once a lawsuit against him from the company over the alleged theft is settled.

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