The governance of Okada Manila has been returned to Universal Entertainment Corporation after roughly three months of being run by 79-year-old Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada.
The corporate offices of the Philippines integrated casino resort in Manila’s Entertainment City were raided on May 31 by a Kazuo-led group. The event occurred after the Philippines Supreme Court ordered Okada Manila’s immediate parent company — Tiger Resort, Leisure & Entertainment, Inc. (TRLEI) — to restore its board to its 2017 arrangement when Okada was a director and the chairman.
TRLEI forcibly removed Okada from the organization that oversees his namesake casino in 2017 amid allegations that he was using company money for his own personal use, allegations that the billionaire has repeatedly denied. Okada has been seeking to regain control of TRLEI and its parent company, Universal Entertainment, ever since.
Okada says TRLEI’s 2017 actions were the work of his adult-aged children who he no longer has a relationship with. His children are Universal and TRLEI’s largest shareholders.
Government Restores Order
The ousted TRLEI leadership said the Supreme Court’s Status Quo Ante Order (SQAO) did not give Okada the right to bring in his own corporate officers to manage Okada Manila.
The Philippines Department of Justice, in response to TRLEI seeking clarification on its rights, said the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) should decide the rightful management firm of the $2.4 billion casino complex. The Justice Department’s opinion explained that the Supreme Court order meant only that TRLEI must give Kazuo back his 2017 positions within the firm.
We believe that the status quo ante order of the Supreme Court mandated only the return of Mr. Okada as stockholder, director, chairman, and CEO of TRLEI. It did not empower him to reconvene or form a new board of directors,” Justice Secretary Jesus Remulla said in her opinion.
PAGCOR acted hastily in ordering through a resolution the Kazuo group off the Okada Manila premises and placing TRLEI’s pre-June 1 executive and management team back in their offices.
A statement from Universal Entertainment said the governance swap was “generally peaceful.” The Philippine National Police assisted PAGCOR in enforcing the order.
PAGCOR ordered Dindo Espeleta, Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco, Maximo Modesto Joel Flores, Tetsuya Yokota, and Hiroshi Kawamura to “cease and desist from discharging their functions in connection with Okada Manila’s casino operations.” TRLEI subsequently returned its key executives to their roles.
Possible Crime Observed
The restored Okada Manila’s governance says that there were alleged observations of potentially criminal activities during the serving of the PAGCOR order to the Kazuo faction.
“Despite the illegally-appointed board’s last-minute efforts to sabotage the transition by disabling most of the property’s elevators for several hours, including those for the customers, the management and operations of Okada Manila were turned over to the board led by TRLEI President Byron Yip and are fully under their control since Friday. There is also CCTV video footage of the Kazuo group shredding documents in hotel room 866, which was being used as an executive office, and employee Gilbert Giazon removing boxes of documents from the property,” the Universal statement contested.
Universal concluded by saying Kazuo Okada will remain a board member in view of the SQAO. But the company added that his future with Universal will be decided once a lawsuit against him from the firm over his alleged theft is determined.
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