The Supreme Court of the Philippines will determine the legal operator of Okada Manila

Published on: August 17, 2022, 10:45 am.

Last update: 17 August 2022, 11:07.

The Supreme Court of the Philippines has agreed to settle the ongoing intra-corporate dispute over who or which company is the legal operator of Okada Manila.

Supreme Court of the Philippines Okada Manila casino Kazuo
Okada Manila in the entertainment city of the Philippines. The Philippine Supreme Court is expected to decide soon which company is the rightful owner of the integrated casino complex. (Image: Okada Manila)

The Philippine court is partly to blame for the chaos surrounding the governance of the $2.4 billion integrated resort in Manila’s Entertainment City. In May, the Supreme Court issued a Status Que Ante Order (SQAO) ordering Okada Manila’s immediate parent company — Tiger Resort, Leisure & Entertainment, Inc. (TRLEI) — to restore its board composition to its 2017 form, when its founder Kazuo Okada was in charge.

TRLEI and its owner, Universal Entertainment Corporation, forcibly removed Kazuo Okada from its boards and executive capacities in 2017. This was after allegations were made that the billionaire was “embezzling millions of US dollars” from companies for his personal use.

Okada, now 81, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Instead, he brought allegations that his ouster was part of a coup by his own grown children to seize control of his gaming empire.

Court to review the matter

After receiving the SQAO from the Supreme Court of the Philippines, a raid was conducted on the corporate offices of Okada Manila in the direction of Okada. TRLEI directors were forced out of their offices and a new TRLEI government has since assumed control of the casino property.

Lawyers for the ousted TRLEI group – now owned by Tiger Resort Asia Limited (TRAL) – argue that the Supreme Court order did not give Okada the right to take control of its namesake casino. TRAL adds that it is the rightful owner of the casino, as its board members Tomohiro and Takako Okada control more than 99% of TRLEI’s publicly traded shares.

Universal Entertainment, where Takako Okada sits on the board, asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its SQAO shortly after the decision in an “Urgent Motion for Reconsideration.” The company, which started in the 1970s making pachinko machines, revealed this week that the high court had agreed to intervene in the ongoing corporate dispute.

Universal contends that the Supreme Court ordered the Supreme Court Division II to review each party’s claims as the legal operator of Okada Manila.

The High Court will carry out the task of determining who or which company owns the voting rights of TRLEI and will return the results of its fact-finding to the Supreme Court, which will issue a judgment based on the evidence and documents.” explained a universal statement.

Universal expects the Supreme Court to issue a final verdict on Okada Manila’s rule in the coming months.

The prosecutor rejects the complaints

TRAL believes that the current management of TRLEI is extracting cash directly from the Okada Manila casino to pay its executives, employees and vendors. Many banks in the Philippines have frozen the resort’s accounts amid the intra-corporate dispute.

TRAL recently filed three criminal complaints with the Philippine Department of Justice against the current membership of TRLEI based on claims that they are stealing money from the casino. But the Makati prosecutor’s office said this week it would not pursue formal charges against the group.

Assistant District Attorney Kristina So-Reyes concluded there was no probable cause to move forward with TRAL’s complaints.

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