The fraud charges against Japanese gaming mogul Kazuo Okada and his associate Takahiro Usui have been officially dismissed by the Philippines’ Court of Appeals. According to court claims, the two men had misappropriated over $3 million from the operator of the Okada Manila casino resort, Tiger Resorts, Leisure and Entertainment Inc.
The litigation against Mr. Okada dates to 2018, when the filing of charges against him was officially recommended by the Philippine Department of Justice. At the time, the Japanese gambling entrepreneur faced claims for three counts of using deception and fraudulent actions to acquire salary and consultancy fees worth $3.15 million during the time he served as chief executive officer of Tiger Resorts, Leisure and Entertainment Inc.
The gambling operator, which is currently controlled and operated by Universal Entertainment Corp., a company that was also established by Mr. Okada and that is currently listed in Japan, alleged that Mr. Okada used illegal disbursement of company funds worth more than 3 million to pay for his salaries and consultancy work. According to the charges, he did that without getting the board’s approval first.
In its claims, the operator of the Okada Manila casino resort noted that the payments were facilitated by Takahiro Usui, its former president and chief operating officer, and were not allowed by the board.
No Evidence of “Estafa” against Japanese Gambling Mogul Found by Philippines’ Court of Appeals
The Philippines’ Court of Appeals 24-page ruling was dated December 9th, 2021 but it became public only a few days ago. The Court of Appeals decided to reverse an earlier ruling issued by a Parañaque regional trial court, which in May 2019 decided to put both Mr. Okada and Mr. Usui to trial for three instances of an alleged form of fraud called “estafa”. At the time, the regional court issued arrest warrants against both men.
Now, the Court of Appeals of the Philippines overturned the abovementioned ruling of the regional court, explaining that the Parañaque trial court committed extreme abuse of discretion when issuing the arrest warrants against Mr. Okada and his associate although a probable there had been no probable cause for such a decision at the time. The Court of Appeals recalled the aforementioned warrants and favored a petition that the Japanese gambling mogul filed in 2019 to challenge the original court’s ruling.
According to the new court ruling cited in a number of media outlets, there had been no misappropriation or conversion of the money received by Mr. Okada. The court agreed with the argument of the Japanese businessman that he could not have committed the alleged form of fraud because at the time he was in full control of Tiger Resorts, Leisure and Entertainment and had the power to give the green light to the directors’ compensation payments.
The decision of the Court of Appeals noted that the subject amount, in that case, had been entrusted to Mr. Okada neither for administration nor safekeeping but was paid by the corporation to him in return for his services as a consultant and a former CEO of the operator of the Okada Manila casino resort. The court’s ruling says in this case the elements of so-called “estafa” are clearly not there so the allegation in swindling money failed.
Back in 2017, Kazuo Okada was dismissed from Universal Entertainment’s board. Then, he was also removed from his Chairman position at Tiger Resorts, Leisure and Entertainment. The gambling billionaire was also subsequently removed from Okada Holdings Ltd, a private Hong Kong-based company that currently holds over two-thirds of Universal Entertainment’s stock.