Gambling tycoon Okada hit with lawsuits–again

CRIMINAL charges were filed anew against Japanese gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada; this time by his former company, Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment Inc. (TRLEI). 

TRLEI filed separate complaints for two counts of estafa against Okada before the Parañaque City Prosecutor’s Office and another charge for perjury before the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office.

Okada served as chief executive officer of TRLEI, a local subsidiary of Japanese firm Universal Entertainment Corp. (UEC), and owner and operator of casino resort-hotel Okada Manila, in April and May last year, respectively.

In its estafa complaint, TRLEI accused Okada of illegal disbursement of company funds amounting to $3 million, supposedly for his consultancy fees and salaries during his one-month tenure as CEO.

The firm claimed that Okada himself—within a span of just one month—caused the disbursement of the corporate funds through his alleged accomplice, Takahiro Usui, who was then TRLEI president and chief operating officer and who was also named respondent in the complaint.

The disbursement was made without a valid board resolution authorizing him to do the same.

“It is clear that [these] amounts received by Mr. Okada were unlawfully disbursed as these were not authorized or approved by TRLEI board of directors,” the complainant said.

“Mr. Okada, taking advantage of his power and influence, as then most senior officer of TRLEI, fraudulently received TRLEI’s corporate funds [of at least $3,158,835.62] as supposed salaries and consultancy fee, which were not authorized, much less approved, by TRLEI’s board of directors,” the complaint read. “As said corporate funds were wrongfully received or acquired by Mr. Okada without authority and through fraud, he holds the $3,158,835.62, by operation of law, in trust for, and thus, under legal obligation to return the same to, TRLEI.”

The company also noted that Okada and Usui “upon demand, failed to account for and return the $3,158,835.62. It is ingrained in jurisprudence that the failure to account for or return upon demand the money or property held in trust created a legal presumption of misappropriation.” 

The second estafa case, on the other hand, involves the supply of light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures to Okada Manila by Okada’s personal company, Aruze Philippines Manufacturing Inc. (APMI). 

TRLEI alleged that the $7-milliom supply contract was awarded to APMI because of the insistence of Okada, in conspiracy with his close associate, Kengo Takeda, who was the former chief technology officer (CTO) of TRLEI. 

The LED fixtures were later found to be defective and APMI turned out to be not authorized to engage in the manufacturing of lighting materials contrary to its claim.

The complaint stated that “the influence and intercession of Mr. Okada and Mr. Takeda pushed complainant TRLEI to engage respondent APMI’s services,” and that Okada practically owned APMI, so “any gains and benefits derived by APMI redounded to Mr. Okada’s personal benefit and advantage.” 

TRLEI further accused Okada of conspiring with the other respondents and “made false pretenses or fraudulent representations as to respondent APMI’s qualification, business, and skill in manufacturing the aforementioned LED strips.

“They also similarly deceived Complainant TRLEI by selling products which they knew were not suitable for the purpose for which complainant TRLEI purchased them,” it said.

APMI and Takeda were named co-respondents of Okada in the second estafa case.

Okada, Usui and Takeda were ousted in their respective positions in TRLEI in June 2017 during an urgent special stockholders’ meeting. 

Okada was removed as director, chairman and CEO while Usui, as director, president and COO. Takeda was removed as director and as CTO.

Aside from estafa charges, TRLEI also filed a complaint for perjury against Okada and Usui for making false statements under oath in their civil complaint questioning their ouster filed before the regional trial court of Parañaque City.

Okada and Usui claimed that TRLEI did not submit an updated General Information Sheet for 2017 before the Securities and Exchange Commission.

They also claimed that TRLEI implemented a mass layoff of its employees and forced establishments inside the resort hotel to close shop.

But TRLEI said such claims were complete falsehoods because the company, in fact, submitted the amended GIS for 2017 on July 3, 2017, and that there has been no mass layoff of employees as, in fact, more workers were being hired by Okada Manila.

TRLEI also added that Okada Manila has not forced any business establishment to close shop. TRLEI pointed out that Okada and Usui were removed in June 2017 and “could not even enter the premises of Okada Manila.”

Okada had faced criminal charges of violation of anti-dummy law before the department of justice, filed by the National Bureau of Investigation during the previous administration. But the case was not resolved and reportedly remanded back to the NBI for reinvestigation.

Aside from the cases filed in the Philippines, Okada is also facing a string of cases in Incheon, South Korea; Hong Kong; and Tokyo, Japan.

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Turning Points 2018