Japanese Tycoon Sued for Using “Brute Force and Intimidation” to Seize Philippines Casino

  • Okada and his partners took control physically of the Okada Manila casino on May 31
  • He was ousted as the casino’s CEO in 2017 amid allegations of misappropriating $20m
  • The new management believe that an April Supreme Court ruling warranted the action
  • The suit names the former CEO and two of his associates, along with a security company
Lawsuit document
The ousted board of the biggest casino in the Philippines has filed a lawsuit against the new management. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Looking to wrestle back control

The ousted board of the largest casino in the Philippines, Okada Manila, has filed a lawsuit against a Japanese tycoon and his partners.

Okada took control of the Manila casino on May 31

The accusations against Kazuo Okada and others relate to coercion and other forms of misconduct, with the former board deeming a recent takeover of the $3.3bn casino resort “violent and illegal.” Okada took control of the casino on May 31 with the help of local police and private security.

The suit is the result of a long-running disagreement regarding who controls the casino’s operator Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment Inc, which is a subsidiary of the Japan-based Universal Entertainment Corporation.

Long-running legal battle

Universal Entertainment ousted Okada as the casino’s CEO in 2017, while also forcing him from his position on the company board. He allegedly misappropriated about $20m worth of funds, although the Court of Appeals dismissed a charge of embezzlement against him in January.

The Supreme Court in the Philippines issued a status quo ante order in April which reinstated Okada. The ousted Tiger Resort board submitted an appeal to the Supreme Court ruling. Their counsel also claim that the decision of the court did not give Okada the authority to set up a new board or to take physical control over the property. The board is now looking for clarification regarding the order.

Gambling regulator officials were present during the takeover last week. However, the regulator must remain a neutral party as it is still an ongoing court issue.

During a news conference, ousted co-vice chairman of Tiger Resort Michiaki Satate said: “At this moment, it is an illegitimate board and set of officers who are running the business.” He went on to confirm that the parent company of the casino operator would not honor any of the new board’s business dealings.

Plenty of disruption

The lawsuit specifically names Okada despite the fact that he did not attend physically during the takeover. It also names two of his partners, as well as the private security guard company that aided the takeover. They allegedly forcibly removed the Universal Entertainment executive Hajime Tokuda from the property and brought him to an area close to his residence.

looks forward to continued success for the casino resort

On Monday, Okada remotely addressed the management of the casino through a town hall meeting. He said he looks forward to continued success for the casino resort and affirmed that there will be much better interaction with the property’s new board.

Speaking to Reuters, a spokesperson for the current management of the Okada Manila described the allegations against Okada and his associates as “pure fabrication,” adding that they “have no legal basis whatsoever.”