Philippine Department of Justice Investigates Kazuo Okada

Sunday, June 10th, 2018 | Written by April Bergman
Philippine Department of Justice Investigates Kazuo Okada

The Philippine Department of Justice has opened an investigation into accusations of fraud and perjury by Kazuo Okada, the Japanese casino magnate who is building a multi-billion dollar casino in Manila at the moment.

The accusations came from casino operator, Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Incorporated, which is affiliated with Universal Entertainment Corporation — Kazuo Okada’s former gaming machine manufacturing company in Japan.

The new investigation comes less than a month after local prosecutors completed similar investigations into Kazuo Okada. Tiger Resort LEI called for an investigation by national authorities, because the company does not believe local authorities could be trusted to conduct a fair and open investigation. For instance, one part of the previous probe was conducted by a panel whose chairman was one of the people being investigated.

NBI Investigation of Okada

The Philippine Department of Justice has charged the National Bureau of Investigation with conducting the new investigation. Beyond previous charges of misconduct, the NBI will investigate why officials in Paranaque City ended the previous probe and how that decision was reached. Before the Paranaque City officials announced they had chosen not to prosecute Okada, the news ended up on the social media accounts of Okada’s suppose girlfriend.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said, “We have requested the National Bureau of Investigation investigate the leak. I understand that [Paranaque City] Prosecutor [Amerhassan] Paudac has recused himself so the Philippines Department of Justice will handle any further motions or incidents in the Okada cases.”

About Tiger Resort LEI

Tiger Resort: Leisure and Entertainment Incorporated is a subsidiary of Universal Entertainment Corporation, a Japanese pachinko, slot, and arcade games manufacturer. The company operates the Okada Manila integrated casino resort located in the nation’s Entertainment City district

Executives from Tiger Resort asked the Philippine Department of Justice to take up its complaint against Okada after the prosecutors in Paranaque City and Makati City decided to not follow through with a probe into claims of fraud and perjury the two cities filed against the 75-year-old casino executive last month.

Investigation of Prosecutor Pauda

The firm called for the nation’s highest law enforcement agency investigate Prosecutor Pauda, a prosecutor in Paranaque City alleged to be responsible for leaking the decision regarding a $10-million estafa (swindling) case against Okada prior to its official release.

Tiger Resort said in a press release, “It is the DOJ, not the panel formed by Paudac, that should properly investigate the leakage of resolutions that happened at the Paranaque prosecutor’s office.”

Tiger Resort’s report added, “The formation [by Paudac] of an investigating panel when he himself would be investigated is improper, self-serving, and unjustified and would only preempt the investigation that should be conducted by the Department of Justice.”

Asked for Jorge Catalan to be Excluded

Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment requested that Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan of the National Prosecution Service not be involved with the investigation into the estafa complaint against Japanese gaming mogul Kazuo Okada.

Patrick Austin Manalo, a lawyer for TRLEI, said Catalan had previously dismissed a criminal perjury complaint against Okada and Takahiro Usui during his time as city prosecutor of Makati. With such a past history of lenience towards Okada, the company hopes Catalan would not be given such responsibility again. Takahiro Usui is the current director of Aruze Gaming America Inc.

Okada and Usui were both named in the estafa complaints filed with the Parañaque City Prosecutor’s Office. The case is now in the hands of the Department of Justice.

Kazuo Okada Suspicious Activities

Kazuo Okada was once Chairman for Tokyo-based Universal Entertainment Corporation, as well as Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Incorporated. Okada was removed from his executive position a year ago after allegations were made that he had been involved in an illegal transfer of around $20 million in company cash. The funds were transferred to ‘third parties’ before going through the “proper internal decision-making process.”

Those charges were not the first time Kazuo Okada has been accused of financial misconduct. As early as 2010-2011, Okada was accused of bribery in the Philippine casino industry. Eventually, the FBI began to question Kazuo Okada, who was a significant Wynn Resorts shareholder at the time.

The FBI probe led to Steve Wynn kicking him off the company’s board, which led to a 6-year lawsuit between the two gaming executives. Once Okada left Universal Entertainment, the company continued the lawsuit against Wynn Resorts. That suit was resolved only in March 2018, when it became expedient for Wynn Resorts to release Okada’s 11% shares in Wynn Resorts.

More recently, Kazuo Okada’s former colleagues in Japan accused him of inadequately awarding a major machine supply contract to Aruze Philippines Manufacturing Incorporated, a manufacturing company that happens to be a subsidiary of Takahiro Usai’s own Aruze Gaming America Incorporated.