Game over

July 18, 2019
Kazuo Okada

Pachinko King Okada loses in successive court rulings in Japan and the Philippines

IT’S game over for Japanese pachinko king Kazuo Okada following separate successive adverse court rulings in Japan and the Philippines.

In a 12-page decision on July 10, the Tokyo High Court dismissed an appeal seeking to nullify a district court decision that upheld the validity of a trust agreement executed by Okada’s daughter Hiromi in favor of her brother Tomohiro for the assignment of her voting rights and disposal of shares to her brother in Hong Kong-based Okada Holdings, the majority shareholder of Universal Entertainment Corp.

UEC, a publicly-listed company in Japan, owns 99.99 percent of Tiger Resort Leisure & Entertainment Inc. (TRLEI), the Philippine firm that owns and operates the posh Okada Manila Resort in Paranaque.

In an earlier separate ruling on July 4, a  Paranaque regional trial court threw out Kazuo’s plea to set aside warrants for his arrest over criminal charges of embezzlement of TRLEI funds worth over $3.1 million during his incumbency as Chairman and chief executive officer of the hotel and gaming company.

With its July 10 decision, the Tokyo High Court wrote finis to attempts by the gaming tycoon to regain control of UEC and TRLEI by invalidating the trust agreement between Tomohiro and Hiromi, who holds nine percent voting shares in Okada Holdings.

Tomohiro has a combined 53 percent voting rights in Okada Holdings, which was used to oust the older Okada from both UEC and TRLEI last year. Kazuo was a mere minority shareholder in Okada Holdings.

The High Court held that there was no legal basis to reverse the earlier decision of the district court against Hiromi.

“For the reasons above, the original judgment is reasonable and this appeal is groundless. Accordingly, this court renders its judgment… to dismiss this appeal,” the High Court said.

In January this year, the Tokyo district court ruled in favor of Tomohiro by throwing out the petition filed by Hiromi questioning the validity of the trust agreement of the siblings in the hope of reinstalling Okada to the corporate boards of UEC and TRLEI. She challenged the district court decision before Tokyo’s High Court.

By dismissing Hiromi’s appeal, the Tokyo High Court affirmed the validity of the trust agreement executed between Tomohiro and Hiromi.

The shareholding rights were confirmed and exercised by Tomohiro in the shareholders’ meeting of UEC and TRLEI and Okada Holdings in accordance with the laws of the countries of registry of the companies.

Last year, Kazuo Okada filed a civil intra-corporate case in a Philippine court seeking to be reinstalled as a director of Okada Manila. But the court dismissed the case. TRLEI pointed out that Kazuo Okada’s suit had no legal basis, with Okada owning no shares of TRLEI and therefore having no right to vote himself into the company’s board of directors.

Okada Manila Resort is doing well and experiencing rapid growth for the first six months compared to the same period last year recording a US$339 million income. Business expansion plans including opening additional hotel rooms and enhancing restaurants and retail offerings are moving forward, Okada Manila said.

The older Okada is also facing arrest in the Philippines for estafa for unauthorized disbursement of company funds. He tried to quash the warrant of arrest against him but this was denied by the Regional Trial Court of Parañaque. The recent Order confirms the continuing effectivity of the arrest warrants against him.

Kazuo is still staying outside the Philippines and has not surrendered  to the Philippine authorities.