Drama continues: Okada arrested in Manila
Japanese gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada was arrested by police authorities at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) on Monday, months after his group launched a “violent” takeover of the $2-billion Okada Manila casino complex.
The Philippine National Police arrested Okada at Naia Terminal 1 at 5:40 a.m. after his flight arrived from Haneda Airport, Japan, according to Universal Entertainment, the Japan-listed company that is led by Okada’s estranged family.
The Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) of Parañaque Branch 90 and Branch 91 issued warrants of arrest against Okada in Oct. 11, the statement showed.
“Kazuo Okada, along with his cohorts Antonio ‘Tonyboy’ Cojuangco, Dindo Espeleta and lawyer Florentino “Binky” Herrera, are facing criminal charges for grave coercion, following their illegal and violent takeover of integrated casino resort Okada Manila on May 31, 2022,” Universal Entertainment said.
Okada, in a separate statement, said he defied warnings from his lawyers that he might be detained if he returned to the Philippines.
“I want to show to the Filipino people and the world that I am not afraid. I came back to face this “grave coercion” charge against me and my associates,” Okada said in the statement, adding that he would post bail for his “temporary freedom.”
“I have nothing to fear when I know I am standing on the right side of the law. I will not bow down to intimidation, and I will not back off from this legal battle. This fight isn’t over,” he added.
The Japanese tycoon also insisted he was the rightful owner of Okada Manila.
“I have given my instructions to my legal team to avail of all legal remedies to ensure that those who fooled and robbed me in Okada Manila be sent to jail for their lies, deceit and usurping operational control of Okada Manila,” he said.
The cases against Okada were filed by the board of Okada Manila operator Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment Inc. (TRLEI), represented by officers James Lorenzana, Hajime Tokuda and Michiake Satate.
The foreign parent firm of TRLEI, Tiger Resort Asia Ltd., welcomed the arrest conducted by Philippine authorities.
“As we wrap things up in fixing the mess that the Kazuo Okada Group brought to Okada Manila, we are optimistic that the intra-corporate dispute will soon be resolved by the Philippine courts,” Tiger Resort Asia director Kenshi Asano said in the statement.
Okada allies Cojuangco and Espeleta allegedly led a group of armed bodyguards to force out TRLEI executives and take physical control of Okada Manila last May.
The Okada-allied camp cited a status quo order issued by the Supreme Court, which directed petitioners and respondents to go back to the state of affairs before the Japanese tycoon was removed in 2017 amid accusations of misuse of millions of dollars in corporate funds.
The takeover was reversed last September in a move backed by the gaming regulator, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.
The arrest on Monday comes a week after Okada’s new spokesman, lawyer Rico Paolo Quicho, said Okada was bent on retaking the casino complex along Manila Bay. Okada remains part of the TRLEI board, as the company complies with the status quo order of the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, MTC Branch 91 has set Okada’s arraignment and pretrial on Oct. 28 while the MTC Branch 90 has set the arraignment and pretrial date on Nov. 7 and Dec. 5. INQ
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