Kazuo Okada Arrested in Philippines on ‘Grave Coercion’ Charge
Posted on: October 18, 2022, 10:09h.
Last updated on: October 18, 2022, 10:45h.
Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada, 80, was arrested in Manila on Monday, October 17, on a “grave coercion” charge.
Earlier this month, the Philippines Department of Justice indicted the gaming tycoon for his forcible May takeover of Okada Manila. Okada built and opened the Manila integrated casino resort in 2016, but was ousted from the companies he founded in 2017 on allegations that he poached money from the firms for his own personal use.
Okada, who has denied any wrongdoing, instead says his adult children, with whom he no longer has a relationship, are responsible for his dismissal from Universal Entertainment Corporation and Tiger Resort, Leisure & Entertainment, Inc. (TRLEI) — the latter being the immediate parent company of Okada Manila.
Okada has been seeking to regain control of his companies since he was forced out. He won a small victory in March when the Philippines Supreme Court instructed TRLEI to restore its boardroom makeup to its 2017 arrangement when Okada held a seat.
But the Supreme Court’s Status Quo Ante Order (SQAO) didn’t give Okada the authority to forcibly take back control of TRLEI and Okada Manila. He did so by way of storming the casino grounds on May 31 with 50 armed private security guards acting on his behalf.
The Philippines Justice Department and Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) ruled in September that Okada’s May takeover was unjust. They ordered that the former TRLEI management should be restored. That Okada-led group was forced off Okada Manila’s premises by the Philippine National Police on September 4.
The Justice Department then this month indicted Okada for his May actions. The law enforcement agency said Okada wrongly took the law into his own hands.
“Grave coercion” in the Philippines relates to “any person who, without the authority of law, shall, by means of violence, prevent another from doing something not prohibited by law, or compel him to do something against his will whether it be right or wrong.”
A “grave coercion” conviction carries a potential prison sentence and financial fine.
Okada says he was well aware of the danger of traveling back to Manila from Japan this week.
I insisted on coming back to the Philippines despite several warnings from my lawyers that I may be detained by the authorities,” Okada told the media after posting bail.
“I want to show to the Filipino people and the world that I am not afraid. I came back to face this ‘grave coercion’ charge against me and my associates. I have nothing to fear when I know I am standing on the right side of the law,” Okada declared.
Legal Proceedings Continue
A myriad of legal disputes regarding Okada Manila’s rightful management remains unsettled.
It’s expected that the Philippines Supreme Court will ultimately need to settle the dispute. A lower appeals court in September refused to hear Okada’s request for reconsideration regarding PAGCOR’s order that Okada Manila be returned to TRLEI.
And a lawsuit from TRLEI against Okada for his alleged 2017 graft also remains unsettled. TRLEI continues to allow Okada to sit on its board, as instructed by the Supreme Court SQAO. But the firm says his seat might be removed if the theft claims are proven in court.
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