DOJ: PH can't close doors on Okada-Wynn case

By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star

Posted at Dec 17 2012 08:05 AM | Updated as of Dec 17 2012 07:03 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines will inevitably become a battleground in the legal scuffle between Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada and former business partner Stephen Wynn.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said this yesterday in anticipation of a reported plan of Okada’s Tiger Resort Leisure & Entertainment Inc. to file a defamation complaint before her department against Wynn.

“DOJ’s mandate is to investigate and prosecute crimes committed within the Philippine territory or any and all violations of Philippine penal laws. So, if a proper complaint is filed before us, it’s our ministerial duty to accept and take cognizance thereof,” she said in a statement.

But De Lima said she could not preempt results of the imminent preliminary investigation.

“As to whether a particular case will prosper will depend on our evaluation of the facts and evidence needed for the determination of probable cause,” she explained.

De Lima confirmed that the DOJ has not yet received Okada’s complaint, contrary to the statement released by the businessman’s group.

With this, she could not comment as to whether or not the DOJ could immediately act on the reported complaint.

“I don’t know what case exactly will be filed,” she stressed, admitting that her statement remains “hypothetical, if not anticipatory.”

Reports said Okada would file charges of online libel against Wynn. The DOJ however cannot act on complaints involving Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act due to a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court.

In a statement last week, Tiger Resorts said its filing of a complaint stemmed from a press release posted by Wynn Resorts on its official website on Feb. 19 accusing Okada of engaging in illegal activities.

Okada said the Feb. 19 statement released globally by Wynn Resorts contained libelous accusations against him, his associates and companies such as Universal Entertainment Corp., and Aruze USA Inc.

Okada’s group cited the Primer on Cybercrime issued by the Department of Justice on Nov. 26, which provides that “cybercrime-related cases are dealt with using existing laws.”

“This means that Internet libel may be ‘dealt with’ or prosecuted under the existing provisions of the Republic on libel,” Okada said.

Wynn and Okada are embroiled in one of the most bitter corporate feuds the international gambling industry has seen.

They had earlier swapped charges in US and Japan.

The feud started when the Japanese pachinko businessman questioned the $135-million donation pledged by Wynn Macau Limited, a Macau subsidiary of Wynn Resorts in Macau. Both businessmen continue to trade barbs, accusing the other of questionable payments to public officials in Asia.