A ruling by the Tokyo District Court rejecting a petition to return voting rights in Okada Holdings Limited (OHL) to Kazuo Okada’s daughter could effectively prevent the company’s founder and former Chairman from returning to the board for the next 30 years.
The decision, issued on 14 July, relates to a 30-year Trust Agreement between Okada’s children – son Tomohiro Okada and daughter Hiromi Okada – under which Hiromi granted her brother voting rights on her 9.78% stake in the company and its subsidiary, Universal Entertainment Corp.
Those rights, combined with the 43.48% already held by Tomohiro, gave him the majority needed to remove his 77-year-old father from the board and assume control of the company in 2017.
As previously reported by Inside Asian Gaming, Hiromi later reconciled with her father and the pair filed criminal proceedings in Hong Kong against both Tomohiro and Universal, among which Hiromi claimed she had been tricked into signing the Trust Agreement in May 2017. Tomohiro replied by filing a complaint in Tokyo to validate the Trust Agreement, with the court ruling in February 2019 that the agreement was indeed valid.
The Tokyo District Court has now rejected an appeal by Kazuo and Hiromi Okada, ruling the Trust Agreement cannot be cancelled by the defendant.
According to information provided by Okada Manila on behalf of parent firm Universal, the Trust Agreement will “remain in effect for 30 years, with Tomohiro Okada given control of OHL. This effectively prevents former Chairman Kazuo Okada from returning to the boards of both OHL and UEC, as well as its subsidiary, Okada Manila, within this period.
“The Tokyo High Court had also previously rejected another petition by the defendant, making the Tokyo High Court decision final and binding.”
The Tokyo decision comes at the same time as the High Court of the Hong Kong SAR dismissed a summons brought by Universal seeking to prevent Kazuo Okada from disposing of assets in Hong Kong, with Universal seeking US$620 million from its founder for alleged mismanagement that saw the cost of developing Philippines integrated resort Okada Manila run over budget.