Kazuo Okada Arrested in $3billion Casino Battle

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Kazuo Okada Arrested in $3billion Casino Battle
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Billionaire Japanese gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada was arrested as soon as he set foot in the Philippines, upping the stakes in a battle over ownership of the Okada Manila resort hotel...

The 80-year-old was well forewarned of the consequences of returning to the southeast Asian country, where he faces charges of “grave coercion” in relation to a hostile takeover of the Okada Manila last May.

Okada was arrested by the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group early on Monday morning as he arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport from Haneda, Japan.

The following day, having been released on bail, Okada released a statement: “I insisted on coming back to the Philippines despite several warnings from my lawyers that I may be detained by the authorities.

He added; “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. I have nothing to fear when I know I am standing on the right side of the law.”

The law may not agree, however, his arrest warrant issued by the Metropolitan Trial Court of Paranaque Branch 90 and 91.

The background to the corporate dispute is a messy affair, with Okada ousted at the Okada Manila’s parent company, Universal Entertainment back in 2017 on suspicion of misappropriating funds.

That led to a tug-of-war over who owned the Philippines’ resort that bore his name, the Philippines Supreme Court ruling he be reinstated.

This in turn led to chaotic scenes as Okada’s supporters and associates physically took over the Okada Manila resort in May, with Okada appointing his own board.

The matter didn’t end there. The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) intervened, and control of the Okada Manila was passed to Universal Entertainment Corporation (UEC).

The market has been reacting sharply to every move in the battle over the $3billion resort. UEC share prices rose by as much as 14% in Tokyo trading as news of the arrest broke.

“The arrest shows Universal Entertainment is in control for now but this tussle is far from over,” Astro del Castillo, MD of First Grade Finance told the Japan Times.

He added: “The ownership dispute should be a red flag for investors but some are looking beyond that because the casino is profitable.”

Meanwhile, Okada himself described his arrest as “a brief inconvenience,” and claimed: ““I am confident that the legal process within the Philippine courts system will vindicate us in all the cases filed against me and my business associates.”

“I will not bow down to intimidation, and I will not back off from this legal battle,” Okada said. “This fight isn’t over. I want to show to the Filipino people and the world that I am not afraid.”

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