Okada Manila takeover: Ousted Philippine casino board sues Japanese tycoon after resort seized

Okada Manila takeover: Ousted Philippine casino board sues Japanese tycoon after resort seized

In a dramatic turn of events in a long-running dispute over control of Tiger Resort, Leisure & Entertainment, which is owned by Japanese Universal Entertainment Corp, Okada’s camp took physical control of the $3.3 billion casino known as Okada Manila on May 31 with the help of private security guards and local police.

The move came after the Philippines’ Supreme Court issued a “standstill ante” order in April, reinstating Okada, who was ousted in 2017, as the casino’s CEO. This follows a decision by the country’s Court of Appeals in January to dismiss an embezzlement charge against Okada and an associate.

The disgraced Tiger Resorts board appealed the Supreme Court’s decision in April and its legal counsel said on Monday that nothing in the court’s decision allowed the Okada camp to take physical control or create a new advice. He is also seeking clarification from the Supreme Court on his order.

Okada’s group used “brutal force and intimidation” to take control of the property on May 31, said Michiaki Satate, co-vice chairman of the ousted Tiger Resort’s board of directors, during a a press conference.

“Right now it’s an illegitimate board and set of executives running the business,” Satate said, adding that the casino operator’s parent company would not honor any business transactions conducted by the casino operator. new board of directors.

Universal, which has seen its shares fall 10% since the takeover, also called the casino seizure an “illegal occupation”.

The lawsuit names as defendants Okada, who was not physically present during the takeover, as well as his associates Antonio Cojuangco and Dindo Espeleta and the private security company they employed.

They are accused of forcibly evicting Universal manager Hajime Tokuda from the casino premises and taking him to an area near his home in what the ousted board said was a kidnapping. They are also accused of harming other company executives in grievances ranging from “serious duress” to “unjust vexation”.

Okada, currently in Japan, spoke remotely to casino management in a public meeting on Monday, pledging for the success of ownership and greater interaction with the new board.

All charges against Okada and his group “are fabricated and have no legal basis,” Vincent Lim, spokesman for Okada Manila’s current management, told Reuters in a statement.

No violent incidents occurred during the takeover and further Supreme Court rulings could prompt the rival group to drop its charges, Lim said.

Officials from the Philippine gaming regulator were present at the takeover to monitor the event. The regulator, however, said it wanted to emphasize its neutrality in the dispute as the matter is still before the court.

Okada was also ousted from Universal’s board in 2017, with directors accusing him of embezzling $20 million in funds, which he denied.

The 44-hectare (108-acre) Okada Manila began operations in late 2016.

With 993 suites and villas, 500 table games and 3,000 electronic gaming machines, it is the largest of the four multi-billion dollar casino resorts operating in the capital of the Philippines, which boasts one of the gambling industries the most dynamic in Asia.

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