MANILA — On the 28th of October, at the Metropolitan Trial Court of Paranaque, Branch 91 arraignment, Chairman Kazuo Okada, along with Antonio Cojuangco, Dindo Espeleta, and legal counsel Binky Herrera, plead not guilty to grave coercion charges. These charges were filed by Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment, Inc. (TRLEI), operator of Okada Manila.
(MTC) Branch 91 Judge Placido Garcia 3rd denied Kazuo Okada’s motion to quash the grave coercion charges after finding that the allegations in the information are sufficient to constitute the criminal offence of grave coercion.
The resolution read: “The information, in this case, is sufficient as regards both the offence charged and the alleged circumstance of conspiracy among the accused in committing the offence charged.
Further stating, “All told, the information, in this case, is sufficient, and the motion to quash in the omnibus motion of the accused must necessarily fail. Considering that the allegations were sufficiently subscribed against the accused in this case, the next logical step for this court is to ascertain the veracity of said allegations in a full-blown trial to determine whether or not the accused are guilty of the offence charged in this case.”
This is coming from the May 31st incident where Mr Kazuo Okada, along with his companions, physically took over a board meeting at the Okada Manila casino — a premier casino resorts hotel bearing his name and was largely built under his leadership.
Key spokesperson and lawyer of Kazuo Okada, Rico Quicho digressed, “Kazuo Okada and his group reiterate that they will face the allegation in a just and very honest way and fight until full justice is obtained.”
“The group remains confident that these grave coercion cases will be dismissed for utter failure of the prosecution to prove its charges with the quantum of evidence required in criminal cases, which is proof beyond reasonable doubt.”
“These grave coercion cases would suffer dismissal just like the six other criminal complaints filed by TRLEI/Divina Law Office for insufficiency of evidence and lack of merit,” he further added.
There are yet other arraignments and pre-trial hearings set on November 7 and December 5 at the Metropolitan Trial Court of Paranaque Branch 90 — this was from a previous press release from Japan’s Universal Entertainment Corp, the founding parent of Okada Manila.
You might also want to read: Kazuo Okada continues the fight for Okada Manila Control
Recent events prior to the arraignment
The 17th of October saw Chairman Kazuo Okada arrested by Philippine police shortly after his arrival in Manila coming from Japan. On the same day, was released on bail and was able to make his side of the matter public.
“I want to show to the Filipino people and the world that I am not afraid. I came back to face this ‘grave coercion’ charge against me and my associates. I have nothing to fear when I know I am standing on the right side of the law. I will not bow down to intimidation, and I will not back off from this legal battle. This fight isn’t over,” he said.
“In the end, I will be able to prove that I am the rightful and beneficial owner of Okada Manila. I am confident that the legal process within the Philippine courts’ system will vindicate us in all the cases filed against me and my business associates,” he said.
“I have given my instructions to my legal team to avail of all legal remedies to ensure that those who fooled and robbed me in Okada Manila be sent to jail for their lies, deceit and usurping operational control of Okada Manila,” Kazuo added.
How this all started
Chairman Kazuo Okada founded Universal Entertainment and also Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment, Inc. (TRLEI) — the operator of Okada Manila. He was ousted from companies in June 2017 — accused of fraud to which he denied any wrongdoing. The board of TRLEI has since seen two clashing parties namely, the Kazuo Okada Group and Tiger Resort Asia Limited (TRAL).
The tension went beyond its threshold when the Okada group attempted to take over a board meeting that was led by TRAL — this was the event on the 31st of May wherein TRAL board members were physically taken away from the venue.
Charges were then filed next by the TRAL-backed board. Amongst the complaints were serious illegal detention, kidnapping, slight physical injuries which were all dismissed by the Depart of Justice panel. Only grace coercion met the due requirements and substantial evidence for a DOJ indictment.
The saga of Chairman Kazuo Okada sheds light on how difficult it can be to set up a shop in Manila. Things started out very well in Okada’s favour and when it turned out too well, the power grab then ensued. I am fully empathetic to Chairman Okada dear readers.
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