Tiger Group vindicated: DOJ indicts Kazuo, Tonyboy Cojuangco, Dindo Espeleta, Blinky Herrera for illegal takeover of Okada Manila

The Department of Justice has recommended the filing of grave coercion charges against Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada and his cohorts for their illegal and violent takeover of Okada Manila four months ago.

The DOJ panel issued the decision based on the complaint filed by the board directors of Tiger Resorts Leisure Entertainment Inc. (TRLEI), operator of Okada Manila, specifically James Lorenzana, Hajime Tokuda, and Mechiake Satate against the Kazuo group.

The DOJ tagged Kazuo’s cohorts – bilyonaryo Tonyboy Cojuangco, Dindo Espeleta and and abogado Florentino “Binky” Herrera III – as the brains behind the brutal removal of Tiger Group officials on May 31.

Kazuo was not present during the siege but the DOJ still found him “equally liable” for grave coercion for giving his imprimatur to the takeover with the help of a platoon of security personnel.

“Ineluctably, respondents Kazuo, Cojuangco, Espeleta, and Herrera are deemed to have taken the law into their hands,” the DOJ said in a decision issued on August 25.

“They could not wait for the Supreme Court to first rule and issue a resolution thereon. Instead, they precipitously went ahead with their unlawful plan to take control and possession of Okada Manila in the guise of implementing the SQAO (status quo ante order), which contains no specifications on what respondents can only do by virtue thereof. Needlessly, respondents illegally magnified the simple and general directive of the Supreme Court to maintain order in the business affairs and operations of Okada Manila,” the Justice Department said.

The DOJ opined that Lorenzana, Tokuda and Satate remained as directors and officers of Okada Manila until the SC has ruled with finality on Kazuo’s standing as shareholder and director of TRLEI.

The DOJ noted that TRLEI’s 99.9 percent owner, Tiger Resort Asia Ltd. (TRAL), does not recognize Kazuo as a board representative and is not bound by the SC order being a Hong Kong based company.

Kazuo used the SQAO not only to take back his board seat before he was kicked out in 2017 for corruption, he also installed his cohorts on the Okada Manila board.

TRLEI regained control of Okada Manila on September 3 after the Philippine Amusement and Gaming corp. issued a restraining order against Cojuangco, Espeleta and Herrera with only Kazuo staying.

The DOJ panel is made up of Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony D. Faullon, Prosecution Attorney Luis Miguel A. Flores, senior Assistant State Prosecutor Tofel Austria, and Assistant State Prosecutor Moise Y. Ayacan.

The Tiger Group is represented by Divina Law while the Kazuo group is represented by Herrera Teehankee & Cabrera Law and abogado Ferdinand Michael Marcos Manotoc, son of Senator Imee Marcos.

The DOJ panel dismissed the other cases filed by the Tiger group – slight physical injuries, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, unjust vexation and direct assault – for lack of evidence.

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