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Japanese tycoon faces multiple raps filed by former firm

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Controversial Japanese gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada is again facing criminal charges in the Philippines, but this time filed by his former company, Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment Inc..

In separate complaints, TRLEI accused Okada of two counts of estafa 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, local subsidiary of Japanese firm Universal Entertainment Corp. and owner and operator of casino resort-hotel Okada Manila, in April and May last year.

In the first estafa case, TRLEI sought for the prosecution of Okada for illegal disbursement of company funds amounting to $3 million supposedly for his consultancy fees and salaries during his one-month tenure as CEO.

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

The complainant claimed that there was  “no Board resolution, approving or authorizing the payment of (such) astronomical sums to Mr. Okada, whether as consultancy fee or salary. 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.”

“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. 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,” read the complaint, copy of which was furnished to Department of Justice reporters last Monday.

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.

“When property is delivered even by mistake, the recipient has the obligation to return it. If he refuses to do so despite demand, he is guilty of estafa (by embezzlement),” TRLEI said.

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 given to APMI upon the behest or 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.”

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

Okada, Usui and Takeda were ousted from  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 Chief Technology Officer.

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 Paranaque City Regional Trial Court. Okada and Usui claimed that TRLEI did not submit an updated General Information Sheet for 2017 before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). They also claimed that TRLEI implemented a mass lay-off of its employees and forced establishments inside the resort hotel to close shop.

However, TRLEI said such claims were complete falsehoods because the company in fact submitted the amended GIS for 2017 on 3 July 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 down.

TRLEI pointed out that Okada and Usui were removed in June 2017 and “could not even enter the premises of Okada Manila. As such, Respondents [Okada and Usui] have had no personal involvement in the management of Okada Manila since their removal, and thus, have no personal knowledge about Okada Manila’s present operations.

Yet, Respondents willfully and deliberately made the foregoing false statements, fully aware that they have no personal knowledge thereof or supporting documents therefore, as, indeed, these statements are completely perjurious.”

Okada had faced criminal charges of violation of Anti-Dummy Law before the DOJ 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, Hongkong and Tokyo, Japan.

In March 2014, while he was a director of Universal Entertainment Korea, Okada made the firm pay the interest of $173,562.23 on the $80-million loan taken out by his family owned company  Okada Holdings from the Singapore branch of Korea Exchange Bank. The loan was supposedly the downpayment for the purchase of land as site for UEC’s Incheon World City Project—but Okada did not even pay the downpayment.

The Hongkong lawsuit against Okada involves a loan of HK $135 million made out by UEC’s Hongkong subsidiary which he used to pay for artworks. UEC has yet to recover HK $120.5 million of the Okada-sponsored loan.

The Tokyo cases, on the other hand, involve the same complaints lodged against Okada over the Hongkong art procurement, and the $80-million loan for land procurement in Incheon both of which were carried out without proper authority of Universal Entertainment Corporation (UEC) or in gross violation of the internal rules and procedure of UEC.


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