Universal Entertainment founder Kazuo Okada claims that company executives began plotting as early as 2012 to oust him as chairman last June. As part of a wide-ranging interview to appear in the October issue of Inside Asian Gaming, Okada contends he was framed by Universal President Jun Fujimoto and his allies, asserting they performed questionable financial transactions, then pointed the finger at Okada, alleging the billionaire had abused company funds to enrich himself by some US$22 million.
“I love Universal. I created Universal. I’m trying to protect it,” Okada declared through a translator. “Is that person going to take these petty actions?”
A leading producer of pachinko machines, Universal also owns integrated resort Okada Manila. In the years before and after the IR’s December 2016 opening, Okada says he was focused on that signature project, present in Manila all but a few days a month.
“While I was away, people were taking advantage, readying their intricate plans,” he says. “I plan to get back my company. I need to clear my name and prove I have done nothing wrong.”
When and if he does regain control of Universal, Okada plans to pursue a license for an integrated resort in Japan, believing he has an edge due to his experience in casino development and creating pachinko machines for Japanese players as well as casino gaming machines globally through personally owned Aruze Gaming.
Okada also says he also will seek to overturn the settlement between Wynn Resorts and Universal stemming from the 2012 seizure of Universal’s shares over US$110,000 in alleged excessive hospitality to Philippine officials, documented by a special investigation headed by former US FBI Director Louis Freeh.
“I’m the chairman of the corporation; I’m not watching what every salesman spends,” Okada says. “When Freeh mentioned US$110,000 over three years, my reaction was: a little over US$35,000 a year, this number you’re talking about, is it truly a problem?”
Universal did not respond to inquiries from Inside Asian Gaming regarding Okada’s assertions.