Kazuo Okada is reportedly returning to Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc (TRLEI). The gaming company received a court order to restore a previous board of directors, which includes the 79-year-old gaming tycoon.
Kazuo Okada has a colorful past. He founded Universal Entertainment, the company behind Okada Manila and other casino properties, and Aruze Gaming Macau Ltd. Later, Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc. (TRLEI) became part of the list, with Okada becoming its chairman and CEO.
In 2017, Universal kicked him out over alleged misuse of company funds, and he has been trying since then to find a way back. The company accused him of misappropriating over $3 million from TRLEI. It also said he misused over $17 million of Universal’s money.
No one thought it was possible – except Okada. It appears as though he was correct, as GGRAsia reports that he is going to return to TRLEI in the same capacities he once held. The media outlet doesn’t specify if the arrangement also includes Universal.
Okada Back on Top
Okada fought his ouster year after year. He employed the use of social media channels, including YouTube and others, in an effort to drum up support for his reinstatement. He routinely asserted that he never did anything wrong, and that his removal was the result of a power struggle.
GGRAsia received an email from Aruze Gaming that provided an update on the latest in the five-year struggle. The casino equipment supplier explained that a Philippine court ordered Okada’s return. That order states that TRLEI must return its board of directors “to the composition it had in 2017 before the dispute between Universal Entertainment Corp and Kazuo Okada began.”
In other words, the same individuals who were in place in 2017 will resume the same positions they held at the time. However, no additional information on how this may impact the rest of the operations, including Okada Manila, was available.
The court order follows a victory Okada achieved in the Philippines last December. The Philippines Court of Appeals found him innocent of fraud charges. It also overturned a lower court’s ruling that would have had him stand trial for misappropriation of funds.
Okada is the primary shareholder of Okada Holdings, the controlling entity of Universal. He controls 46.38%, while a son, Tomohiro, controls 43.48%. A daughter, Hiromi, controls 9.78%.
Drama Not Yet Over
The Philippine court order is a Status Quo Ante Order, which essentially puts things back the way they were at a given point in time. However, it carries several conditions. In this case, TRLEI will need to maintain that status quo until a subsequent order, if it comes, forces an alteration.
That’s a possibility, but not a likely one. TRLEI will reportedly file a motion for the court to reconsider the decision, according to Inside Asian Gaming. However, it points out that the court almost never changes its mind.
As such, for now, Okada is once again the chairman, director, and CEO of TRLEI. The problem is getting the company to abide by the order. If it doesn’t accept it peacefully, an entirely new drama will emerge.
In addition, there will be questions about compensation. Okada is likely to seek indemnification for lost wages over the past five years.
Okada Still In the Hot Seat
While Okada will likely welcome the news and see it as a huge coup, it’s going to create a new issue. He is still on the hook for $50 million in legal fees for a battle he had with Wynn Resorts. He owes the money to a legal firm that represented him in that fight, which later took him to court when he refused to pay.
Returning to TRLEI, should it happen, he won’t be able to escape this blemish on his record. If he doesn’t pay, TRLEI can use that against him, claiming a lack of suitability to lead the company.
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