Japanese gaming giant Universal Entertainment has denied that its founder and former chairman Kazuo Okada has reinstalled himself as a director of its parent company Okada Holdings.

Universal denies Kazuo Okada is back in charge

Kazuo Okada was expected to announce he had returned to the board of Okada Holdings, following a boardroom coup in early summer. But the anticipated press conference apparently never took place. (Image: Reuters)

Okada was ousted from the boards of both Universal and Okada Holdings in early summer. Universal has accused him of three instances of fraud, related to the alleged misappropriation of some $100 million of company funds, and of being “unfit” to represent a public company.

Okada has claimed the sum in question was a legal directors’ loan that wasn’t due for repayment until October, and that he was the victim of a boardroom coup instigated by his family, who collectively own a controlling stake in Okada Holdings.

Okada, who was once the majority shareholder in Wynn Resorts, has launched legal proceedings against his son, daughter and wife in an attempt to wrestle back control of the parent company.

Phantom Press Conference

Universal’s most recent announcement appears to be a response to a Reuters article from last week which claimed Okada was about to hold a press conference to announce he was back on the company board at Okada Holdings. The power shift had come courtesy of “a change of heart by Okada’s daughter,” Reuters said, citing as a source “a person close to the 74-year-old tycoon.”

Okada was also expected to announce an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting to install a new board, himself included.

But it’s doubtful that the press conference, scheduled for Thursday, September 14, according to the source, ever took place because no media outlet reported on it.

In a filing dated September 15, Universal moved to quash the rumors.

“Upon verifying the situation with Makoto Takada and Atsunobu Ishida, whom the company understands to be registered as directors of Okada Holdings, the company received the response that Mr Okada has not in fact legally acquired and maintained majority voting rights in Okada Holdings, including proxies to exercise voting rights in place of Okada Holdings shareholders, nor has he been reinstalled as ‘representative’ or ‘director’ of Okada Holdings,” read the filing.

Allegations Restated

Universal reiterated that a third-party probe it had commissioned into its founder had confirmed the allegations of fraud and that the company had “sincerely and solemnly” accepted its results. The investigation had also alleged Okada had “violently intimidated and threatened” a Universal executive, Yoshinao Negishi, with whom he is alleged to have been in cahoots.

Universal has said it will publish the results of the investigation once it has redacted parts that that might reveal company secrets or sensitive information about its business partners.

Meanwhile, the allegations against Okada are also being investigated by the Nevada Gaming Control Board due to various licenses held by Universal and other companies affiliated to Okada in the state.