The Supreme Court has stepped in anew in the messy battle for control Okada Manila amid reports that the new management of the casino-hotel has released P2 billion to its allied contractor.
The Supreme Court has ordered the group of Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada and bilyonaryo Tonyboy Cojuangco to reply to the urgent plea to relinquish control and possession of casino hotel in Entertainment City based on the urgent plea filed by Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment Inc. (TRLEI).
The SC issued the resolution on June 13 and gave the Kazuo-Tonyboy group, which forcibly took over Okada Manila management from TRLEI on May 31, five days to respond to its resolution.
Divina Law senior partner Abogado Estrella Elamparo, TRLEI’s counsel, lauded the SC’s swift action on its petition noting that that Kazuo-Tonyboy group’s action was a perversion of the High Court’s status quo ante order (SQAO) and place the $3.3 billion casino hotel under a cloud of chaos.
TRLEI has sued the Kazuo-Tonyboy group – including former officer Dindo Espeleta, and their legal counsel Herrera, Teehankee, and Cabrera Law Office stormed Okada Manila on May 31 – for “employing brute force and intimidation to compel legitimate TRLEI officers to yield control” of Okada Manila on the pretext of the SQAO.
TRLEI maintained that the SQAO merely ordered the return to the 2017 status before Kazuo was ejected as shareholder, director, and chairman due to several misconducts such as embezzling company funds or his personal gain. The Japanese Supreme Court has since ruled with finality that Okada Manila’s ultimate parent company, Okada Holdings Ltd., is majority owned and controlled by Kazuo’s estranged son, Tomohiro Okada.
Amid the ownership dispute, TRLEI also questioned the release of P2 billion by the Kazuo-Tonyboy group to Espeleta’s Transasia Construction Development Corp. (TCDC) to settle purportedly outstanding payables.
TRLEI, however, claimed that TCDC owed Okada Manila some P9 billion in overpayments, contra charges, and financial losses for which a final demand for payment was issued on 24 January 2022.
“This is beyond absurd given the fact that TCDC actually owes TRLEI P9 billion. Before the violent takeover, TRLEI was actually preparing to file an arbitration case against TCDC for its outstanding obligations to TRLEI,” Elamparo said.
The fund release was made after three banks – BDO Unibank, Union Bank of the Philippines and Asia United Bank – ordered a freeze on Okada Manila’s accounts due to the question of boardroom control.
“This (P2 billion payment to TCDC) paints a clear picture that the illegally constituted board’s true priority isn’t the success of the business nor the welfare of its employees,” Elamparo said.
“The legitimate board of TRLEI are concerned that Okada Manila will not be able to meet its financial obligations and commitments to employees, contractors, and suppliers because of the frozen accounts.How will Okada Manila survive without funds for operating expenses, wasting precious opportunity with the gradual reopening of the economy. The SC’s swift action is all the more commendable given the urgency of this situation,” Elamparo said.