The “new board” of Okada Manila operator Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc (TRLEI) has again denied that it took control of the property by force last week, insisting instead that the transition was peaceful and it is “business as usual” at the Manila IR.
In a lengthy rebuke to reports claiming the previous management of TRLEI, including director Hajime Tokuda, had been manhandled and feared for their safety, the Kazuo Okada team said Thursday that the “transition from the previous Okada Manila management to the new management team of Mr Kazuo Okada was peaceful, orderly and professional.” It also claimed that the group was “welcomed and assisted by the security personnel of Okada Manila and escorted inside the corporate offices.”
This follows the former board having sued Kazuo Okada and his representatives earlier this week on a range of charges, including kidnapping and illegal detention, following the takeover.
Hajime Tokuda claimed via a statement on Tuesday that he was taken “physically from his chair” and was “was held on all sides, like a dead body being removed from a crime scene.” He also described the takeover as “probably one of the most traumatic events in my life.”
In response, the Kazuo Okada Group said Thursday that this was instead part of a narrative being created by the former TRLEI board and accused them of deliberately causing a scene while filming on their mobile phones.
“Mr Hajime Tokuda turned over his office keys and company ID to the new management group without any intimidation or force being used on him,” the group said. “The transition was going on smoothly until the lawyers of the old management (represented by Atty. Estrella Elamparo) arrived.
“Eventually, Atty. Elamparo was escorted out of the executive offices. To heighten the drama, she and her associate, Atty. Patrick Alcantara cleverly took video selfies made to look frenzied.
“Mr Mike Waite, head of security of TRLEI under the old management tried to convince Mr Tokuda to cooperate and leave the premises quietly. Instead, Mr Tokuda convened an illegal meeting at the Golden ballroom together with his lawyers. Again, they were asked to leave. Tokuda’s group secluded themselves inside the ballroom for almost two hours. When Mr Tokuda refused to leave despite several requests, he was bodily removed from the ballroom and the Okada premises. The drama that ensued inside the ballroom was made to appear as a hostile takeover by members of Tokuda’s group who created the disturbance and scandal themselves. They even took videos with the intent of making it go viral. They forgot that the property has its own CCTV cameras.”
The group also denied that Tokuda was “kidnapped and begging for his life”, insisting instead that he “was simply transported to his home by an Okada Manila rental car driven by his former driver who is still employed with the company.
“Bottomline is there was nothing illegal,” the Kazuo Okada group said.
“Resort to force was reasonable and minimal, and caused by the behavior of Atty. Elamparo and Mr Tokuda themselves. The new management team assures everyone concerned that all these matters shall be resolved in the proper legal forum.”
“Meanwhile, it is business as usual at Okada Manila and things are better than ever before.
“With borders opening up and international travel on a rebound, Okada Manila under the able leadership of Mr Kazuo Okada, whom employees fondly call ‘Daddy O’, is poised to seize the opportunity for business growth with enhanced services and exciting new attractions and promotions.”
IAG on Thursday spoke separately with Jason Ader, Founder and CEO of Springowl Asset Management and driving force behind the 26 Capital SPAC looking to list Okada Manila in the United States. Ader described the takeover as illegal and said he expects Okada Manila’s majority owner Universal Entertainment Corp to resume control of the property in the near future.