Japanese gambling tycoon Kazuo Okada broke Philippine law for allegedly creating dummy firms to buy land for a Manila casino project

Japan tycoon broke Philippine fake firm law

Investigators said similar charges should be filed against 25 other individuals who helped the Japanese billionaire set up at least three firms to establish the billion dollar casino. -AFP

Mon, Jul 15, 2013


MANILA – Philippine investigators recommended Monday that charges be filed against Japanese gambling tycoon Kazuo Okada for allegedly creating dummy firms to buy land for a Manila casino project, the Justice Department said. Investigators said similar charges should be filed against 25 other individuals who helped the Japanese billionaire set up at least three firms to establish the billion dollar casino at Manila’s bayfront Entertainment City. There was clear evidence that the firms established by Okada “were a front for Universal Entertainment, meant to circumvent or evade laws of nationalisation of certain rights, franchises and privileges”, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said.Okada controls Universal Entertainment Corp., while under the Philippine constitution, only citizens or companies which are 60-per cent-owned by Filipinos can own land.

“They are liable for violating the Anti-Dummy Law,” de Lima told AFP. She said the Justice Department’s National Bureau of Investigation was reproducing “voluminous documentary evidence” to be turned over to state prosecutors who will then determine whether the case should proceed in court.

Okada holds one of four licences handed out by the gaming regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to build casinos each worth at least US$1 billion at Entertainment City.

Of the other franchises, one involves a joint venture between Australian billionaire James Packer, Macau gambling tycoon Lawrence Ho and a firm held by the family of shopping mall magnate Henry Sy, the Philippines’ richest man.

A company controlled by Philippine shipping billionaire Enrique Razon was the first of the franchise holders to open a casino, called Solaire, earlier this year.

The Okada group could not be immediately reached for comment Monday, although Okada had previously said the project in Manila was above board.

The Japanese tycoon’s project was also roiled in controversy last year when he was sued in the United States by American partner Steve Wynn in a case involving their casino businesses in Las Vegas and Macau.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino subsequently ordered an enquiry into Wynn’s allegations that people working for Okada gave illegal gifts to top Pagcor officials to get a license.

The Justice Department said Monday there was insufficient evidence that Okada had been involved in bribery

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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