The Department of Justice (DOJ) has approved the filing of complaints against Kazuo Okada and his followers for alleged illegal and violent takeover of the Okada Manila Hotel and Casino last May.
In a 25-page resolution of five separate complaints filed against the Kazuo group, the justice department said probable cause has been established to file grave coercion charges against Kazuo Okada, Antonio Cojuangco Jr., Dindo Espeleta, and Florentino Herrera III.
The DOJ panel acted on the complaints filed by Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment Inc. (TRLEI) officers James Lorenzana, Hajime Tokuda, Juan Pena, and Michiaki Satate, as well as legal counsel Estrella Elamparo.
“We are grateful that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has started the ball rolling in advancing justice for the victims of the brutal takeover in May. We will continue to work with our lawyers and exhaust all legal means to win this case against the Kazuo Group,” TRLEI executive Hans Van Der Sande said.
Kazuo’s group, escorted by some 50 armed men, allegedly stormed Okada Manila on 31 2022, and took over the integrated casino hotel, citing the status quo ante order (SQAO) issued by the Supreme Court as basis for their action.
In the process, the TRLEI directors were allegedly unseated.
The DOJ noted that the Okada group apparently misinterpreted the SQAO as an instrument for the takeover of Okada.
“Ineluctably, respondents Kazuo, Cojuangco, Espeleta and Herrera are deemed to have taken the law into their hands,” the resolution read. “[T]hey precipitously went ahead of their unlawful plan to take control and possession of Okada Manila in the guise of implementing the SQAO, which contains no specifications on what respondents can only do by virtue thereof.”
The justice department added that the Kazuo Group “illegally magnified the simple and general directive of the Supreme Court to maintain order in the business affairs and operations of Okada Manila.”
By preventing Lorenzana, Tokuda, and Satate from performing their duties as officers of TRLEI, the DOJ panel found probable cause to the grave coercion charges against the respondents.
“Overdoing a given authority is tantamount to taking advantage of, if not deemed a licentious action, as a means to attain an end goal. Respondents should act within the confines of the law and not resort to the commission of a felony,” the resolution stated.
“Evidently, there is prima facie showing that respondents did not act under authority of law and/or went in excess of a lawful right. They have no right to take the law into their hands and deprive the complainants of their right as directors and officers of TRLEI,” it added.
And despite not being physically present during the takeover, Kazuo Okada was found to have been equally liable “since it appears that the incident happened with his prior knowledge, assent, or imprimatur”, the resolution said.
“Being the sole petitioner before the Supreme Court and for whose favor the takeover was done in the guise of enforcing the SQAO, respondent Kazuo certainly cannot feign ignorance of the crime, these, he is liable for grave coercion,” the resolution read.
Furthermore, the DOJ Secretary opined that Kazuo Okada is not recognized as the sole representative of Tiger Resort Asia Ltd., which owns 99.9 percent of the shareholdings in TRLEI, citing the SQAO.
Led by TRLEI President and COO Byron Yip and TRAL representatives Takako Okada and Kenshi Asano, the legitimate board of TRLEI regained control over Okada Manila on 02 September 2022, as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) ordered the removal of the self-instituted board that Kazuo Okada illegally constituted.
Kazuo Okada is temporarily part of the board, as TRLEI honors the SQAO pending the resolution of the intra-corporate dispute in the Supreme Court.
“We are now working on cleaning the mess that the Kazuo Group left—from stolen funds, fraudulent transactions, and illegally fired employees, to stolen documents and ransacked records—and are now beefing up the business for growth. We are hopeful that the intra-corporate dispute will soon be settled with the honorable courts seeing the correctness of our position,” Van Der Sande said.