Universal Entertainment to Publish Findings of Kazuo Okada “Fraud” Investigation
Universal Entertainment announced this week the completion of a third-party special investigation into the “potentially fraudulent acts” it has alleged against its chairman, the Japanese gaming mogul Kazuo Okada.
On June 29, the Universal Entertainment board ousted Okada, who founded the pachinko and casino equipment giant in 1969, and announced it was investigating him for misuse of company funds.
Universal’s president Jun Fujimoto said the company had uncovered a possible fraud, which related to an “irregular” set of transactions, totalling $20 million and dating from 2015. The purpose of the transactions, said Fujimoto, was to “achieve personal benefit for Chairman Okada.”
“Recently it has been found out there is a suspicion that certain directors illegally outflowed approximately 2 billion yen without going through proper internal decision making process [sic],” said Fujimoto.
“In response to this, the Company hereby announces that, having judged that a thorough investigation from a professional and objective viewpoint is necessary, it decided to establish a special investigation committee consisting of external experts.”
In an interview with Reuters on July 2, Okada, 74, dismissed the allegations as “nonsense” and claimed he had been the victim of a boardroom coups on several fronts. The “irregular transactions” were director’s loans, he explained, and were not scheduled to be repaid until November.
Furthermore, the funds had been used for legitimate business purposes, to increase junket operations for the new Okada Manila resort, Okada said.
The family patriarch is suing his son, Tomohiro; daughter, Hiromi; and wife, Takako, in an effort to wrest back control of Universal’s parent, Okada Holdings. Okada now owns just 46.4 percent of the parent, having ceded the controlling stake of the company to his family, which was enough for them to oust him from the board in May.
No Impact on Okada Manila
Universal Entertainment said in an official statement this week it was sitting on the findings of the investigation while it decides whether to redact parts that might compromise “the business secrets of the company and its business partners.” However, the report would be published shortly, it said.
Philippine casino regulator Pagcor has said that the investigation into Okada would not impact the operations of the Okada Manila. The resort opened in December last year but is still incomplete and is not expected to commence gaming operations at full capacity until early 2018.
Okada has also been removed from the board of Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc, which is the Okada Manila operator and a subsidiary of Universal Entertainment.
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