Kazuo Okada, 79, was ousted from control of his namesake casino resort in the Philippines in 2017. Now, it’s the Japanese billionaire who is doing the ousting.
Okada led a forcible takeover of the $2.4 billion Okada Manila casino last week. Armed with 50 security guards and Filipino police, the Kazuo-led group assumed control of the Entertainment City resort backed by a “Status Quo Ante Order” from the Philippines Supreme Court.
In April, the Philippines’ highest court ordered Tiger Resort, Leisure & Entertainment, Inc. (TRLEI), a subsidiary of Universal Entertainment Corporation, to restore its board to its 2017 makeup. The order essentially put Kazuo back in control five years after the board ousted him from its governance on claims that he stole money from the casino company.
The Kazuo raid of Okada Manila’s corporate offices resulted in TRLEI officials who supported the billionaire’s forcible exit in 2017 being relieved of their duties. Kazuo now claims complete control over TRLEI, Universal, and the casino property.
Okada Speaks, Faces Lawsuit
Six days after the Kazuo offensive surprised TRLEI corporate executives at work last Tuesday, Kazuo addressed the Okada Manila staff via satellite video. He told the casino’s approximately 10,000 employees that the reinstalled TRLEI board’s only goal is to elevate “Okada Manila to greater heights of success.”
The ousted board members and key executives of the former TRLEI say the “Status Quo Ante Order” did not give the Kazuo group the authority to remove anyone from their jobs or positions.
Plain and simple, the newly installed Board is not the status quo Board in 2017,” a statement from the former TRLEI leadership argues. The ousted TRLEI group adds that it owns and controls “no less than 99.9% of the company’s outstanding capital stock.”
The former TRLEI board has since filed a lawsuit against the Kazuo group in an effort to regain power.
“At this moment, it is an illegitimate board and set of officers who are running the business,” said ousted TRLEI Co-Vice Chair Michiaki Satate.
Nonetheless, Kazuo is progressing with his belief that he — not those ousted last week — is the rightful owner of Okada Manila. The billionaire commented on the lawsuit, saying it is “pure fabrication” and has “no legal basis whatsoever.”
State Claims Nonalignment
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), which regulates commercial gaming in the nation, says it watched the Kazuo takeover last week. But the agency explains that its function is to safeguard gaming operations — not protect corporate governances. As such, the regulator did not intervene.
PAGCOR emphasizes its neutrality in the intra-corporate dispute in Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment, Inc., in light of news reports accusing the regulator that it is biased in favor of the group of Mr. Okada,” the agency’s latest statement on the matter explained. “PAGCOR has only recognized and will only recognize the orders of the Supreme Court and will exercise its authority as regulator without violating or disrupting the Status Quo Ante Order and other orders issued by the Supreme Court.”
PAGCOR concluded by saying it is the Supreme Court’s responsibility to resolve the intra-corporate ownership dispute.
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