Philippine Casinos Cleared by PAGCOR as Personal Troubles for Okada Mount

Posted on: July 6, 2017, 03:14h. 

Last updated on: July 6, 2017, 03:19h.

Billionaire Kazuo Okada is feeling the heat from investigations into his personal alleged improprieties, but Philippine gaming regulator says that shouldn’t affect the image of companies and casinos bearing his name.

Kazuo Okada Manila
Japanese gaming billionaire Kazuo Okada may have 99 problems, but a casino regulator in the Philippines isn’t one of them, at least not for now. (Image: GGRAsia)

Japanese casino magnate Kazuo Okada might be in hot water, but his property, Okada Manila Casino is fine, according to the head of the Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corporation.

On Tuesday, PAGCOR Chair and CEO Andrea Domingo told Gambling Compliance at the World Gaming Executive Summit in Barcelona, that Okada as an individual was currently subject of investigation by the regulator, but the company sharing his name was in the clear.

“If a person commits wrongdoing that’s their problem,” Domingo said. “It is an internal problem and they would have to elect new directors which our board has to approve.”

The Okada Manila casino resort removed Okada as chairman of its board in June.

This followed his ouster just weeks earlier as chairman of Universal Entertainment, a pachinko machine and gaming equipment manufacturer that also owns and operates both the Okada Manila and Tiger Resorts casinos in the Philippines.

The corporate upheavals stem from an internal discovery of dubious financial transactions that Okada has not been able to satisfactorily explain. Most notable is the transfer of $17.3 million in March 2015 from Tiger Resorts to a company personally controlled by Okada and his son.

See No Evil?

Domingo said PAGCOR has looked at their casino license holders that are separating themselves from Okada and have found no actionable wrongdoing.

The Philippine regulatory agency might not care about Okada’s problems, but American regulators and law enforcement officers do.

Diane Presson, supervisor at the Nevada Gaming Control Board investigations division, said in an email to GGRAsia they had received two notices from Universal Entertainment about suspected and were examining the allegations.

The FBI also has taken notice, scrutinizing him over a $40 million payment allegedly made to a consultant in Manila that authorities suspect could have been an effort to curry favor and tax breaks for his proposed $2.4 billion resort in that country, possibly in violation of US anti-bribery laws.

With Friends and Family Like These …

In the US, Okada was a longtime business partner of fellow casino billionaire Steve Wynn. Their relationship stretched back to Okada’s loaning $455 million to help Wynn build resorts both on the Las Vegas Strip and in Macau. The professional friendship soured, however, amid allegations of impropriety related to Okada’s property in Manila. Lawsuits from both sides currently are pending in a Las Vegas court.

The latest Okada relationship to end up in court now involves his family, as Okada has sued his 43-year-old wife and two children from a previous marriage in an effort to wrestle back control of Okada Holdings, the parent company of Universal Entertainment.

Okada admitted that part of his motivation for the lawsuit was a hope that courts would get his family members to talk to him. He says he has not spoken to his son for more than two years and doesn’t know where his daughter lives.