Legal counsel representing the board backed by Okada Manila’s majority owner Tiger Resort Asia Ltd (TRAL) has claimed the Kazuo Okada-led board of Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc (TRLEI) – which assumed control of the integrated resort in May – has paid Php 2 billion (US$36.7 million) in “expenses” to a company led by TRLEI’s own Chairman.
According to a statement issued by TRAL on Wednesday, the Kazuo Okada Group authorized the payment to a company called Transasia Construction Development Corp (TCDC) – a former Okada Manila contractor run by Dindo Espelata. Espelata is part of the Kazuo Okada group and was recently appointed Chairman of the new TRLEI-board following the 31 May takeover.
This, TRAL says, is despite TCDC actually owing TRLEI Php 9 billion (US$165.3 million) in “overpayments, contra charges, and financial losses.”
According to TRAL’s statement, TRLEI issued a final demand for payment to TCDC on 24 January 2022, prior to the Kazuo Okada group’s takeover.
“We received further information that the Kazuo Okada-backed board filed a resolution to pay the Espeleta-led TCDC the amount of Php2 billion for expenses,” said Atty. Estrella Elamparo, senior partner at Divina Law and representative of TRAL.
“This is beyond absurd given the fact that TCDC actually owes TRLEI Php 9 billion. Before the violent takeover, TRLEI was actually preparing to file an arbitration case against TCDC for its outstanding obligations to TRLEI.”
The alleged payment comes despite three Philippines banks – BDO Unibank (BDO), Asia United Bank (AUB) and Union Bank of the Philippines – last week freezing the accounts of Okada Manila due to the ongoing intra-corporate dispute between the two factions.
“It paints a clear picture that the illegally constituted board’s true priority isn’t the success of the business nor the welfare of its employees,” Elamparo said.
“The legitimate board of TRLEI and officers of TRAL and UEC are wary that Okada Manila will not be able to meet its financial obligations and commitments to employees, contractors and suppliers because of the frozen accounts.
“More so, this puts to question how Okada Manila will survive without funds for operating expenses, wasting precious opportunity with the gradual reopening of the economy.”
TRAL said it had also received a resolution from the Supreme Court of the Philippines ordering a reply and comment from the Kazuo Okada group to a motion filed by TRAL calling for the group to refrain from exercising management and board functions and surrender the physical possession of Okada Manila.
“We laud the honorable Supreme Court for treating this matter urgently and acting swiftly on the motion filed,” Elemparo said.