Court affirms Okada arrest

May 16, 2019
Kazuo Okada

A Parañaque City trial court has affirmed the warrant of arrest it issued early this year against Japanese gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada and his associate Takahiro Usui.

In an order dated May 6, Judge Rolando G. How of the Paranaque regional trial court Branch 257 denied the motion filed by Okada and Usui seeking to quash the arrest warrant on charges of embezzlement of $3.1 million in funds of posh Okada Manila Resort Hotel.

Finding the petition to be lacking in merit, the court said it was “not convinced that there is clear absence of probable cause for the issuance of warrant of arrest.” With the denial, the arrest warrant against the two remains valid and in effect.

In December last year, Department of Justice (DoJ) prosecutors indicted Okada and Usui for three counts of estafa, on complaints filed by Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment, Inc. (TRLEI), owner and operator of Okada Manila, the largest casino-hotel integrated resort in the country.

Okada and Usui were accused of misappropriation of company funds committed when Okada was chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of TRLEI, and Usui was its chief operating officer.  They were removed from TRLEI in June 2017.

In its indictment, the DoJ found pachinko king Okada, in conspiracy with Usui, to have received $3,158,835 in salaries and consultancy fees without any authority or approval of the TRLEI Board.  Upon demand, the accused refused to return the money, thus appropriating the same to the damage and prejudice of TRLEI.

In filing the case in court last January, the Paranaque court found probable cause and issued a warrant of arrest against Okada and Usui.

The former TRLEI officers then questioned the order of arrest, arguing that there was no basis for the issuance of the warrant.

The court threw out the motion saying “there was no Board Resolution which authorized Usui to determine the salary of Okada. There was also no Board Resolution which authorized Usui to pay Okada a consultancy fee. Those powers to determine the salary of Okada and to pay Okada a consultancy fee are not implied in his functions as COO.”

“… Being just a mere subordinate, Usui had no power to arrogate to himself the power to fix and determine the salary and consultancy fee of his boss. The power to decide on the remuneration of Okada who held the highest position as CEO of TRLEI rests in the hand of the Board of Directors,” the court added.

Okada and Usui remain at large and are believed to be outside the Philippines. In the same order, the court deferred resolution of the prosecution’s motion for hold-departure order until it is proven that Okada and Usui are in the country.

The Paranaque court ruling is the latest legal setback suffered by the Japanese gaming mogul in his attempt to regain control of the corporate empire behind Okada Manila.

In November 2018, another Parañaque court dismissed the intra-corporate case filed by Okada seeking to be reinstated in the TRLEI board.

Last January 25, the Tokyo District Court issued a decision that effectively brings to an end Kazuo Okada’s bid to re-take control of Okada Holdings Limited (OHL), which owns 67.9% of Universal Entertainment Corporation (UEC). UEC is a Japanese publicly listed company, and parent company of TRLEI.

Also last month, the Las Piñas Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the perjury case filed by Okada’s personal company, Aruze Manufacturing Philippines, against TRLEI officer Dindo Espeleta, in connection with another case filed by TRLEI against the Japanese pachinko king and Aruze.