THE Department of Justice (DoJ) is set to file in court criminal charges against Japanese gaming mogul Kazuo Okada for allegedly embezzling more than $3 million in funds of posh Okada Manila.
In a resolution dated December 7, Assistant State Prosecutor Ajejandro Daguiso found Okada liable to face trial on three counts of estafa arising from a complaint filed by Tiger Resort Leisure & Entertainment Inc., owner of the hotel resort in Paranaque.
Daguiso’s resolution reversed a ruling of the Paranaque Prosecutor’s Office dismissing the estafa cases on ground that it constituted intra corporate dispute.
TRLEI accused Okada of illegal disbursement of company funds amounting to $3.145 million supposedly for his consultancy fees and salaries during his tenure as CEO through his accomplice Takahiro Usui, then TRLEI president. The disbursement was not authorized by the TRLEI board.
Okada is facing a separate case for estafa involving the payment of $7 million for the supply and installation of light emitting diode (LED) fixtures to the resort casino by Okada’s personal company, Aruze Philippines Manufacturing Inc (APMI), in conspiracy with his close associate, Kengo Takeda, who was the former Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of TRLEI.
In his resolution, Daguiso found Okada’s arguments unconvincing. “(Okada’s) defenses are now appropriately matters of evidence to be proven in a full-blown trial,” he said in the resolution.
Daguiso also indicted Usui for conspiracy in the commission of the offense.
Reacting to the DoJ decision, TRLEI director Antonio “TonyBoy” Cojuangco said: “The decision brings us one step closer to disentangling the shareholder disputes in the Okada group, hence allowing the company to run its business with utmost efficiency. Needless to say, despite the legal embroilments, the current management of the Okada group is focused on achieving its financial targets, contributing to the economic growth of the country, as well as helping improve the lives and conditions of the disadvantaged.”
TRLEI earlier protested the resolutions issued in May by Paranaque City Prosecutor Amerhassan C. Paudac which it said had been leaked.
“The premature leakage, followed by the apparent ‘rush to release’ the assailed resolutions, coupled with the wrongful dispositions and resolution of these cases, are indicative of Paudac’s feared undue interest in the instant cases and which not only violate due process… but are grave administrative offenses,” TRLEI said.
It said the leakage “not only violated pertinent laws on public officers but also seriously damaged the credibility, independence, and integrity of the assailed resolutions as well as of the OCP-Paranaque and, ultimately, Paudac.”
“The leaked assailed resolution(s) itself is the smoking gun that something irregular happened in the Office of the City Prosecutor of Paranaque City, headed by Paudac,” it lamented.
The controversy prompted Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra to assume jurisdiction over the cases and ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe the circumstances surrounding the premature release or leakage of Paudac’s two resolutions.
TRLEI had asked the DoJ to set aside Paudac’s resolution for “evident bias and gross partiality in favor of the accused.”