An arrest warrant for Kazuo Okada has been issued by a Philippines court. It stems from the Japanese billionaire’s alleged forcible takeover last year of his namesake integrated casino resort in Manila.
Kazuo Okada outside Okada Manila in April 2016. A Philippines court has issued an arrest warrant for the Japanese billionaire for leading a takeover last year of his namesake casino resort. (Image: Financial Times)
On May 31, 2022, a group directed by Okada entered the Okada Manila corporate offices, located on the grounds of the casino resort in Manila’s Entertainment City. They forced out the leadership.
The Okada group gained control of the enterprise and ran the resort until the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) ordered in September that it be returned to Tiger Resort, Leisure & Entertainment, Inc. (TRLEI). The Philippine National Police assisted in the return of the TRLEI executives at Okada Manila.
Okada’s actions came after he claimed he was forcibly ousted from TRLEI by his adult children, who alleged in courts that their father was stealing money from the gaming business. Okada was later arrested on a single “grave coercion” charge.
Arrest Warrant Issued
Okada pleaded not guilty to the charge in December and pledged to clear his name in the Filipino court system. Okada sent Casino.org a lengthy email that month claiming many of his closest colleagues, including his children, conspired to oust him from Okada Manila on false allegations of theft and fraudulent activity.
Okada told us there would be no reason for him to steal two billion yen, about US$14 million, as the TRLEI board alleged. That’s because his net worth is robust.
Until the coup, I controlled approximately 70% of UEC’s stock [Universal Entertainment Corporation — the parent entity of TRLEI]. It is clear that there is no reason for me to commit a criminal act in order to obtain two billion yen,” Okada told Casino.org.
Okada’s attorneys have petitioned the Philippines Department of Justice to dismiss the grave coercion charge. But Judge Regina Paz A. Ramos-Chavez ruled this week that Okada’s appeal to the DOJ won’t stall the criminal proceedings.
As a result, Ramos-Chavez ordered the arrests of Okada and 12 of his associates who carried out the May 2022 takeover.
“There is probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest against all of the accused,” Ramos-Chavez said in his warrant. “The counter-allegations of the accused, being evidentiary in nature, are best threshed out in a full-blown trial.”
After resuming control of Okada Manila, TRLEI executives determined that a considerable amount of cash was stolen from the property during the unauthorized Okada-led takeover. TRLEI contends in court that at least PHP500 million (US$9 million) vanished.
A grave coercion charge relates to an individual, without the authority of the law, preventing another person or entity from carrying on with their business through the use of force and/or violence.
The penalty for someone found guilty of grave coercion is an imprisonment sentence ranging between two to six years. If TRLEI executives can successfully prove that the forcible takeover resulted in physical injuries, the prison time could be elevated to six to 12 years.
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