Philippines gaming regulator PAGCOR has issued a statement backing a forced takeover of integrated resort Okada Manila by a group representing Kazuo Okada and confirming its presence on site while Tuesday’s dramatic events unfolded.
The incident followed the recent issue of a status quo ante order (SQAO) by the Supreme Court of the Philippines to Okada Manila operator Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc (TRLEI) ordering the restoration of the composition of the board of directors to its 2017 line-up, before the dispute that saw Kazuo Okada removed from both TRLEI and its Japanese parent firm Universal Entertainment Corp.
In response to questions from Inside Asian Gaming about the incident, PAGCOR said it had referred the SQAO to its legal team which deemed that, because the “matter at hand involves an intra-corporate dispute pending before the Supreme Court, PAGCOR, as a Government regulatory body, is duty bound to observe due process and comply with the issuances and directives of the Supreme Court.”
PAGCOR said the takeover of Okada Manila was a consequence of the SQAO and confirmed it had assigned its monitoring team to witness the incident as it unfolded, although it denied reports of violence towards any TRLEI staff.
“The PAGCOR Monitoring Team assigned [to] Okada Manila monitored the situation with the purpose of protecting the interests of PAGCOR and the Government, and to ensure that operations are not disrupted and the welfare of the playing patrons is ensured,” the statement said.
“Based on the report of the PAGCOR Monitoring Team, at around 9:45am on 31 May 2022, the team from the former management of TRLEI arrived at Okada Manila. They were headed by Mr Antonio Cojuangco and Mr Dindo Espeleta, accompanied by Atty. Herrera, members of the Philippine National Police and Sheriff from the Supreme Court.
“They proceeded immediately to the Hotel’s office to meet [TRLEI director] Mr Hajima Tokuda. The Sheriff served the [SQAO] to Mr Tokuda. Atty. Herrera informed Mr Tokuda that based on the SQAO, Kazuo Okada was restored as Chairman and CEO of TRLEI. He then formally introduced the group of Mr Kazuo Okada (who was present at that time thru zoom conference). The video conference ended at around 12:10pm.
“The PAGCOR Monitoring Team on duty at that time reported that Mr Tokuda was then escorted outside the premises without being bodily hurt. The whole incident was covered by Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras.”
TRLEI’s parent company had issued a statement late Wednesday in which it said it does not believe the the Supreme Court of the Philippines has authority over Okada Manila because Tiger Resort Asia Ltd (TRA), a company registered in Hong Kong, owns 99.9% of TRLEI’s voting rights. TRLEI counsel Atty. Estrella Elamparo has noted that in 2017 Kazuo Okada owned only one share in TRLEI, a company with some 5 billion ordinary shares on issue, and even that single share was removed from Mr Okada later that year.