Japan’s Universal Entertainment Corp (UEC) – the ultimate parent company of Philippines integrated resort Okada Manila – says a motion filed with the Second Division of the Supreme Court to reconsider the Status Que Ante Order (SQAO) it issued earlier this year has now been remanded to the High Court.
The SQAO, issued in May, had ordered the board of Okada Manila’s operator, Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc (TRLEI) to be restored to its composition in 2017, before a dispute between Universal and its founder, Kazuo Okada, that led to the latter being frozen out. Following the SQAO, a group representing Mr Okada forcibly took control of the premises on 31 May and remain in control to this day.
The ongoing intra-corporate dispute saw the ousted board file a motion calling on the Supreme Court to reconsider with Universal revealing this week that the issue has now been elevated to the High Court based on additional information provided.
“The Philippine Supreme Court has decided to remand the case once to the High Court for the High Court to review the evidentiary documents regarding TRLEI’s ownership of voting rights and make findings of fact regarding TRLEI’s ownership of voting rights, since no such documents were submitted to the lower court,” it said.
“The High Court will … perform the task of determining who or which company owns the voting rights of TRLEI [and] will return the results of its fact finding to the Supreme Court, which will issue a judgement based on the evidence and documents.”
Universal said the High Court will complete its fact finding within 30 days and expects the Supreme Court to deliberate for around a month before issuing its judgement.
The update comes as the ousted board confirmed Tuesday that its legal representatives have now issued demand letters to three Okada Manila officers for the immediate return of Php122 million (US$2.2 million) it says they siphoned from the casino cage.
The officers have been named as Assistant Vice President for Accounting and Finance Gilbert Gianzon, Director for Finance Renato Marcelo and Manager for Accounts Payable, Rowena Chan, with the ousted board alleging they authorized the release of the cash in question to to TransAsia Construction Development Corp (TCDC), a company linked to Kazuo Okada representative Dindo Espeleta.
“The illegally constituted board led by Kazuo Okada has resorted to using ordinary day-to-day officers to do their dirty work,” said UEC director Kenshi Asano.
“This act of corporate thievery should stop immediately to protect not only our investors but the sustainability of the business, which employs more than 5,000 workers. We, the investors in Okada Manila, are respectfully asking the honorable Supreme Court to hasten the resolution of the intra-corporate dispute in our multibillion-dollar investment.”
The ousted board said it was also offering a reward of 5% of any funds recovered to Okada Manila staff who provide information that leads to their recovery, potentially including an earlier Php2 billion (US$36.7 million) payment to TCDC it says was approved by the Kazuo Okada-backed board.
“TRAL urges Okada Manila employees who observe suspicious payments or potential outright theft to please send an email with the full details to [email protected] if they have any information on improper taking, or payment of Okada Manila funds,” Asano said.