Philippines Casino Regulator Won’t Intervene in Okada Manila Corporate Anarchy

The Philippines casino regulator PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation) says it will not intervene in the alleged “violent” takeover of Okada Manila by Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada.

Philippines casino Kazuo Okada Manila
Philippines casino Kazuo Okada Manila
The exterior of the Okada Manila casino resort in the Philippines’ Entertainment City. The country’s gaming regulator says it will refrain from involving itself in a corporate dispute regarding who rightfully controls the $2.4 billion property. (Image: Okada Manila)

Tiger Resort, Leisure & Entertainment Inc. (TRLEI), a subsidiary of Universal Entertainment Corporation, owns and operates the $2.4 billion Okada Manila casino resort in the Filipino capital’s Entertainment City. The company alleges that 50 armed private security guards acting on Okada’s behalf violently stormed the integrated resort on May 31 and wrongly and unlawfully forced TRLEI executives off the premises.

PAGCOR President Alfredo Lim told Reuters in the immediate aftermath of the alleged raid that he was “shocked” to hear of the incident.

Okada believes he was wrongly ousted in 2017 from the company that owns his namesake casino. The Philippines Supreme Court in April ruled in favor of the billionaire in his legal challenge that he was unjustly forced out of Universal and TRLEI. The high court ordered Universal/TRLEI to restore its board makeup to its 2017 composition.

Tiger Resort officials contend that Okada used the Supreme Court ruling to justify his illegal takeover of Okada Manila. Video shared by TRLEI with local broadcaster ABS-CBN News showed physical altercations as the approximately 50-person raid assumed control of the property.

PAGCOR Not Intervening

Lim says that PAGCOR will not interject itself into the corporate governance squabble. The chief gaming regulator says the agency will instead only seek to maintain that Okada Manila’s guest-facing operations are not impeded, nor are jobs for the roughly 10,000 people who call the casino their place of employment.

Okada released a statement claiming that his takeover of the resort was just. And contrary to TRLEI and Universal Entertainment’s claims that the raid involved “goons,” he says the offensive included members of the Philippine National Police who were carrying out orders of the Supreme Court.

“Contrary to news reports, there is no truth to the allegation that representatives of Kazuo Okada, made up of ’50 goons,’ conducted a ‘violent’ and ‘illegal’ takeover. The fact of the matter is that Mr. Okada’s representatives included members of the Philippine National Police, four Sheriffs, and was witnessed by representatives of PAGCOR,” the statement from Okada’s office read.

Criminal Charges Sought

Universal Entertainment and TRLEI notified investors today that it’s seeking criminal charges against Okada for organizing an “illegal occupation” of a public business. The Japanese publicly traded corporation says Okada’s actions were made without an administrative or judicial permit or order.

For such serious criminal offenses as trespassing, obstruction of business, unlawful occupation, theft, assault, injury, and incitement, TRLEI will immediately file criminal charges,” the Universal investor notice read.

Tiger Resort adds that even if Okada is restored to the board, he owns only a single share of Universal, and therefore has no control.

Okada was dismissed from Universal and TRLEI after an internal audit found that the billionaire stole $2 million and issued himself $97 million in loans on 0% interest without board approval. Okada has denied any wrongdoing.

TRLEI is appealing the Philippines Supreme Court ruling to restore its board to its 2017 arrangement by way of an “Urgent Motion for Reconsideration.”

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