Philippines – Kazuo Okada receives a “stop and desist” order from PAGCOR

PAGCOR

The Kazuo Okada-led board of TRLEI has been granted a “stop and desist” order by PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp), which also instructed them to quit the Okada Manila Casino Resort and hand control back to the previous board.

In pursuance of the Status Quo Ante Order (SQAO) earlier granted by the Supreme Court in respect to the administration and operation of the controversial Okada Manila, PAGCOR ordered the business group of businessman Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco to cease and desist.

Because of this, Tiger Resort Asia Ltd. (TRAL) is able to effectively reassign its genuine board members to Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment Inc. (TRLEI) and restore complete control over the hotel and casino.

In accordance with the judgment, the Okada-led group was ordered to “stop and desist from discharging their functions in connection with Okada Manila’s casino operations and from disbursing cash in the Okada Manila cage and to remove the gaming facilities of Okada Manila’s casino and its offices.”

The handover was smooth overall, save for a small and fleeting altercation when Kazuo Okada’s self-appointed board attempted to prevent government officials from entering Okada Manila. Officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) helped the PAGCOR representatives enforce the directive.

A resolution from PAGCOR dated 02 September 2022 was served to the Okada Manila board of directors, their representatives, and non-employees by government officials. The PAGCOR resolution, which was signed by Acting Corporate Secretary Jessa Mariz R. Fernandez, stated that the gaming regulator had decided not to recognize the Okada Manila board of directors established on May 2, 2022, as the Supreme Court’s SQAO of April 27, 2022 only resulted in Kazuo Okada’s return as a shareholder, director, chairman, and CEO of TRLEI.

Consequently, Maximo Modesto, Antonio O. Cojuangco, and Dindo A. Espeleta A directive to “stop and desist from fulfilling their tasks in connection with Okada Manila’s casino operations” has been issued to Joel C. Flores, Tetsuya Yokota, and Hiroshi Kawamura.

Furthermore, they are barred from further “disbursing funds in the Okada Manila cage and to peacefully vacate the gaming premises of Okada Manila’s casino and offices.”

“We believe that the order from the PAGCOR affirms our position in the intra-corporate dispute in Okada Manila. It is consistent with both the letter and spirit of the SQAO of the Supreme Court. We are hopeful that both the High Tribunal and the Court of Appeals will agree and this issue can be put to rest very soon,” TRAL Director Kenshi Asano said.

The management and operations of the Okada Manila were turned over to the TRAL-backed board led by TRLEI President Byron Yip on Friday, despite the illegally appointed board’s last-minute attempts to obstruct the transition by shutting down the majority of the property’s elevators for several hours, including those for the customers. Since then, they have been completely under their control. Additionally, there is CCTV video showing the Kazuo group destroying paper records in hotel room 866, which served as an executive office, and staff member Gilbert Giazon transporting boxes of records from the building.

TRLEI highlighted the history, by saying: “Kazuo Okada and his henchmen Espeleta and Cojuangco stormed Okada Manila in May, forcibly and violently taking over the premises and installing themselves as the new board of Okada Manila, citing the SQAO issued by the Supreme Court. Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla issued a formal agency opinion on the matter, assuring PAGCOR of its authority to exercise its regulatory powers on corporate disputes concerning its stakeholders such as casino operators.”

“We believe that the status quo ante order of the Supreme Court mandated only the return of Mr. Okada as stockholder, director, chairman, and CEO of TRLEI. It did not empower him to reconvene or form a new board of directors. The strict interpretation of the SQAO is even expressly directed by the Supreme Court in its resolution of the motion for reconsideration that was filed to clarify the High Court’s intent in issuing the SQAO,” Remulla said in the document dated 01 September 2022.

In light of the SQAO’s temporary restoration of Kazuo Okada to his position prior to his removal and the fact that he still has an active arrest warrant out for him in the Philippines for theft, Okada will be recognized in the Board for the time being. Once the Court of Appeals submits its conclusions to the relevant Tribunal in accordance with an earlier Resolution it made, the Supreme Court will decide on his destiny.

“While we have successfully retaken control over the management and premises of Okada Manila, we will remain focused on resolving this matter with finality. A favorable outcome will help the Philippines regain the trust of international investors”, Asano added.

 

 

 

 

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Nassima Azmzm

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