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Okada estafa cases dropped for lack of probable cause

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KAZUO OKADA — AFP

By Dane Angelo M. Enerio

THE Office of the City Prosecutor of Parañaque City has dismissed for lack of probable cause the two separate estafa cases filed by Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment, Inc. (TRLEI) against Japanese gambling mogul Kazuo Okada and several other respondents.

Mr. Okada was the chief executive officer of TRLEI’s Okada Manila casino resort before he was sacked in June 2017 in connection to his alleged unauthorized consultancy payments amounting to $3,158,835.62 and his acquisition of defective LED strips worth $7,091,065.78 from his own supply company Aruze Philippines Manufacturing, Inc. (APMI). TRLEI charged him with two separate estafa complaints for the incidences.

Copies of the court’s resolutions obtained by BusinessWorld showed that Assistant City Prosecutor Romeo G. Bautista IV dismissed both estafa cases as no probable cause could be established to prove that Mr. Okada and his co-accused were guilty of committing their alleged crimes.

The $3-million case was dismissed in a five-page resolution dated May 11 that said, “all told, there being painful failure to establish probable cause that the respondents have committed the crime charged against them, the instant Complaint must be recommended dismissed.”

Aside from Mr. Okada, also charged in the case was Takahiro Usui, Okada Manila’s former chief operating officer and president, for allegedly being involved in the misappropriation of the funds.

The court also ruled that the case was intra-corporate, thus outside the court’s jurisdiction.

“A legal remedy may lie before appropriate forum/fora taking into consideration the intra-corporate nature of the instant Complaint; but definitely not before this very Office since it only receives complaints involving acts that are criminal in nature,” it said.

Mr. Bautista issued similar rulings on the $7-million case involving the allegedly defective LED lights, saying in a seven-page resolution dated May 18, “following a painstaking review of the pieces of evidence presented, this Office finds no probably cause to indict the respondents for the crime charged.” The court said the case was outside its jurisdiction as it was civil in nature.

Charged in the case were APMI, Mr. Okada, Kengo Takeda and Tetsuya Yokota.

Both resolutions said, “finding that there is no probably cause that the respondents have committed the crime charged against them does not altogether equate to a finding that the complainant has no other recourse against the alleged wrong done, given that what is before it only specifically concerns the alleged criminal act of the respondents.”

The Department of Justice (DoJ) vowed to investigate the alleged premature release of these court resolutions by a close companion of Mr. Okada as early as May 18 and sought for the inhibition of City Prosecutor Amerhassan C. Paudac from the case, citing bias.

Prosecutor Jorge G. Catalan, Jr., the DoJ’s head prosecutor, also recused himself from the cases after TRLEI’s request as he had been involved in a previous perjury case against Mr. Okada that eventually dismissed.