The Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) has backed the previous dismissal by the City Prosecutor’s Office of Parañaque of estafa charges against Japanese gaming mogul Kazuo Okada and associates in relation to the supply of LED strips for the exterior façade of Okada Manila in 2016.
In a 10-page decision forwarded to Inside Asian Gaming by Okada’s local legal representatives, Assistant State Prosecutor Alejandro Daguiso stated that respondent Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc. (TRLEI) – the operating entity of Okada Manila that removed Okada as Chairman in mid-2017 amid multiple allegations of defrauding the company – failed to prove a conspiracy between Okada and others in relation to the supply of the LED strips.
The original complaint, filed by TRLEI’s Chief Executive Adviser Dindo Espeleta, alleged Okada – via TRLEI’s then Chief Technology Officer Kengo Takeda – had pressured him into awarding Okada’s Aruze Philippines Manufacturing Inc (APMI) the contract for manufacture and supply of the lights to give it “an opportunity to profit.” The contract was worth US$4.5 million.
The complaint also alleges that TRLEI was later forced to order more LED strips due to wastage from cutting the strips to fit the building’s curves and that much of the installation had to be redone following a new installation order by APMI due to warping from Manila’s harsh weather conditions. According to Espeleta, only 20% of the LED lights were still working properly three months after Okada Manila’s grand opening in March 2017.
The DOJ ruling rejected all of these complaints, stating “there appears to be no concrete evidence at all of the Respondents’ alleged conspiracy and representations that brought about the contract in question” with most of the allegations relying on Espeleta’s own word.
It also said “officials like Mr Espeleta had every opportunity to conduct due diligence in preparation for the signing of the Supply Agreement” with APMI.
“To summarize, we find that there is no probable cause to conclude that criminal fraud occurred.”
Despite its findings, the DOJ also recommended in December that charges be filed against Okada for the alleged misappropriation of around US$3.1 million salaries and fees from TRLEI during his time as Chairman and CEO. Earlier this month a Parañaque City court issued a warrant for Okada’s arrest.