Philippines Supreme Court to Determine Rightful Operator of Okada Manila Casino

Posted on: August 17, 2022, 10:45h. 

Last updated on: September 4, 2022, 12:02h.

The Philippines Supreme Court has agreed to settle the ongoing intra-corporate dispute regarding who or which company is the rightful operator of Okada Manila.

Philippines Supreme Court Okada Manila casino Kazuo
Okada Manila in the Philippines’ Entertainment City. The Philippines Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on which company is the rightful owner of the integrated casino resort. (Image: Okada Manila)

The Philippines court is partly to blame for the chaos surrounding the governance of the $2.4 billion integrated resort in Manila’s Entertainment City. The Supreme Court in May issued a Status Quo Ante Order (SQAO) instructing Okada Manila’s immediate parent company — Tiger Resort, Leisure & Entertainment, Inc. (TRLEI) — to restore its board composition to its 2017 makeup when its founder Kazuo Okada was in charge.

TRLEI and its owner, Universal Entertainment Corporation, forcibly removed Kazuo Okada from its boards and his executive capacities in 2017. That’s after allegations were raised that the billionaire was “misappropriating millions of US dollars” from the companies for his own personal use.

Okada, 79 years old, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. He has instead levied accusations that his ousting was part of a coup carried out by his adult-aged children to take control of his gaming empire.

Court to Review Matter

After receiving the SQAO from the Philippines Supreme Court, a raid on Okada Manila’s corporate offices was carried out in Okada’s direction. TRLEI executives were forced out of their offices, and a new TRLEI governance has since assumed control of the casino property.

Attorneys for the ousted TRLEI group — now going by Tiger Resort Asia Limited (TRAL) — contend that the Supreme Court order did not give Okada the right to retake control of his namesake casino. TRAL adds that it is the rightful owner of the casino, as its board members, Tomohiro and Takako Okada, control more than 99% of TRLEI’s publicly traded shares.

Universal Entertainment, where Takako Okada sits on the board, petitioned the Supreme Court to reconsider its SQAO soon after the ruling by way of an “Urgent Motion for Reconsideration.” The company, which started in the 1970s manufacturing pachinko machines, revealed this week that the high court has agreed to intervene in the ongoing corporate quarrel.

Universal says the Supreme Court has ordered its Second Division High Court to review each side’s claims as the rightful operator of Okada Manila.

“The High Court will perform the task of determining who or which company owns the voting rights of TRLEI and will return the results of its fact-finding to the Supreme Court, which will issue a judgment based on the evidence and documents,” a Universal statement explained.

Universal expects the Supreme Court to issue a final verdict on Okada Manila’s governance in the coming months.

Prosecutor Rejects Complaints

TRAL believes the current TRLEI leadership is siphoning cash directly from the Okada Manila casino in order to pay its executives, employees, and vendors. Many banks in the Philippines have frozen the resort’s accounts amid the intra-corporate dispute.

TRAL recently filed three criminal complaints with the Philippines Department of Justice against the current composition of TRLEI on claims that it’s stealing money from the casino. But the public prosecutor’s office in Makati this week said it would not proceed with formal charges against the group.

Assistant Prosecutor Kristina So-Reyes concluded that there was no probable cause to move forward with the TRAL complaints.