Kazuo Okada Appeal Dismissed by Tokyo High Court, Billionaire Must Pay $200K

Posted on: September 21, 2020, 01:53h. 

Last updated on: September 21, 2020, 02:24h.

Billionaire Kazuo Okada’s appeal of a ruling by the Tokyo District Court in February has been rejected in a higher court.

Kazuo Okada Japan court Universal Entertainment
Kazuo Okada has lost yet another court battle in relation to his ousting at Universal Entertainment, the company that made him a billionaire. (Image: Instagram)

The Tokyo District Court ordered Okada to pay damages of JPY21.3 million ($200,000) in relation to three cases of alleged fraud he committed while heading his former company, Universal Entertainment Corporation. Attorneys for Okada appealed that the District Court erred in its decision.

In a securities filing made last week with the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Universal says Okada’s appeal has been rejected by the Tokyo High Court.

A judgment dismissing the appeal of Mr. Kazuo Okada … was recently issued by the Tokyo High Court on the grounds that the claims of Mr. Okada were objectively contrary to the facts, and as such, inadmissible,” the Universal notice explained.

The High Court ruled that Okada must pay Universal the roughly $200,000 in damages the District Court originally ordered, plus five percent interest and all litigation costs. Forbes estimates Kazuo Okada to have a net worth of $1.5 billion.

Ongoing Denials

Okada initially made his fortune by manufacturing pachinko games, slot-like terminals that can be found throughout Japan. He founded Aruze Corporation, which later became Universal Entertainment, in 1969.

Okada’s worth grew exponentially when he became an early investor in what would become Steve Wynn’s casino empire. Universal owned a 21 percent stake in Wynn Resorts until 2013. That’s when the Japanese billionaire was forced to sell his shares after allegedly bribing officials in the Philippines to win licensure for a casino resort in Manila’s Entertainment City.

Okada denied the allegations, but was nonetheless forced out of Wynn Resorts by the US-based casino giant.

In 2017, Okada’s own family accused him of wrongdoings. The plot to overthrow the now 77-year-old businessman was orchestrated by his son, Tomohiro Okada. Tomohiro and his sister, Hiromi Okada, combined their voting powers, along with other Universal stakeholders and board members, to remove Kazuo from the company.

Universal alleged that Kazuo Okada secretly loaned himself approximately $100 million with zero percent interest between 2014-15 without corporate approval. He has continued to deny any wrongdoing.

Case Closed?

Universal Entertainment says the Tokyo High Court’s dismissal of Okada’s appeal “acknowledges that the Fraudulent Acts were conducted under the order of Mr. Okada.”

Mr. Okada breached both his duty of a good manager and his fiduciary duty of loyalty as a Director of the Company,” the securities filing asserted.

Okada could continue his legal saga by appealing to the Japan Supreme Court, the apex of the country’s judicial hierarchy.

“The court can void any decision in which it finds there has been an incorrect interpretation or application of the law,” explains Britannica. The court may also overturn a ruling if it finds error in the facts of the case, or if it considers the punishment unjust. It may remand a case back to a lower court if it finds justification for the reopening of proceedings.”

But as is the case in the United States, Japan’s highest court accepts only a small percentage of cases it receives for review each year.