Gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada arrested in Hong Kong, former company says

Kyodo News

Posted at Aug 06 2018 10:11 PM | Updated as of Aug 07 2018 05:39 AM

Gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada arrested in Hong Kong, former company says 1
Japanese gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada. Reuters/file photo

Philippine lawyer denies Okada arrest

(UPDATED) Japanese gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada has been arrested by Hong Kong's anti-corruption agency over corruption allegations, the company he founded said Monday.

Universal Entertainment Corp. (UEC), of which Okada was director until last year, said in a statement that he was arrested by the Independent Commission Against Corruption "in relation to various corruption related offenses" and is currently released on bail.

It said Okada, who in 1969 started making and selling pachinko machines and casino equipment, resigned from the directorship of the company on June 29, 2017, and has no connection with it anymore.

"We will render our full support and assistance to the ICAC and other law enforcement authorities should the situation require," it said.

Okada departed the Tokyo-listed company amid allegations he misappropriated millions of dollars.

Local media reported last week he was arrested by the ICAC on July 30 for alleged conspiracy to defraud and released the following day. He has reportedly denied the allegation.

The ICAC said it does not comment on individual cases.

Gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada arrested in Hong Kong, former company says 2

RETALIATION?

A lawyer of Okada in the Philippines, however, denied that the gaming tycoon was arrested on alleged conspiracy to commit fraud against his own company, Okada Holdings Limited. 

In a statement, Atty. Rean Balisi of Blanco & Esguerra Law Office said the case was dismissed as of May 2018.

"The case now reportedly with the ICAC is a merely rehash of what was already dismissed," the statement read.

According to Balisi, the case appears to be merely a retaliation by Okada’s detractors to the 2 criminal cases filed by Okada and his daughter, Hiromi Okada, in Hong Kong’s Commercial Crime Bureau.

The lawyer said that on May 9, 2018, Okada filed a criminal case of theft, conspiracy, fraud, and money laundering against UEC President Jun Fujimoto, Makoto Takada, Atsunobu Ishida, and several other individuals. 

The case involves 43.48 percent shares, which is worth approximately HK$6.18 billion in OHL, an Okada Family company incorporated in Hong Kong, and a suspected case of “money laundering” involving US$43,497,203.80.

On March 23, 2018, Hiromi also filed a criminal case against her brother, Tomohiro Okada, Takada, Ishida and Fujimoto for fraud caused by the unlawful transfer and seizure of her 9.78 percent shareholdings in OHL.

UEC is a publicly-listed company in Japan and cases filed against it, especially on financial matters, are closely watched and monitored by relevant government agencies where it holds a license.

Balisi claimed there are no charges filed against Okada with the ICAC or any other law enforcement agencies in Hong Kong.

The lawyer also said that Okada and his daughter Hiromi have a controlling interest of Okada Holdings, a family corporation. 

"It is simply impossible and absurd for my client to defraud his own company," Balisi said.