Philippine Court Resolves Ownership Dispute at Okada Manila

The legal battle over the ownership of Okada Manila has been settled, with the Philippines Supreme Court ruling in favor of Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment, Inc. (TRLEI), the operating umbrella of the casino’s parent company, and Universal Entertainment, the Tokyo-based gaming conglomerate that owns and operates Okada Manila in the Philippines’ Entertainment City. The court lifted the Status Quo Ante Order (SQAO) that had been issued in April 2022, following a lawsuit by billionaire Kazuo Okada, who claimed he was wrongly ousted from the companies he founded.

Okada had used the SQAO to forcibly take control of Okada Manila in a raid that took place on May 31, 2022. He maintained control of the resort for about three months until he was ordered by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation to return it to Universal and TRLEI in September 2022.

In a statement, Universal Entertainment said that the Supreme Court’s ruling confirmed that Okada was properly removed as a shareholder, director, chairperson, and CEO of TRLEI and that he was only a nominal shareholder with one nominal share that had been revoked in 2017. The court resolution also stated that Okada is not the controlling stockholder of the ultimate parent company, Okada Holdings Limited (OHL), and that Tomohiro Okada is the majority shareholder of OHL.

With the lifting of the SQAO, the litigation is concluded, according to Universal. However, TRLEI representatives believe that at least PHP500 million (US$9 million) was stolen from its cash holdings during the period they weren’t allowed inside the property.

The legal battle also impacted a proposed merger by US businessman Jason Ader and his blank check special purpose acquisition company, 26 Capital, which was unable to carry out its reverse takeover of the casino resort due to the ownership dispute.

As for Kazuo Okada, he is currently facing a criminal case in the Philippines for his involvement in leading the Okada Manila raid. He has pleaded not guilty, and his attorneys are seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed. Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of TRLEI and Universal, Okada may still face further legal challenges.