Prosecutor General inhibits from Okada estafa cases

MANILA -- Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr. has decided to inhibit himself from handling the USD10-million estafa cases filed by Okada Manila hotel operator, Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment, Inc. (TRLEI), against Japanese gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada.

In a memorandum addressed to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra dated June 8, Catalan said he granted the motion of complainant TRLEI that he inhibits from the Okada estafa cases.

In view of the said Motion for our inhibition, we are refraining from taking action on these cases, much less recommend the designation of a prosecutor as Acting City Prosecutor of Paranaque City, the memorandum stated.

"Accordingly, we leave it to the sound discretion and judgment of the Secretary of Justice to cause the issuance of a department order for the designation of a member of the National Prosecution Service as Acting City Prosecutor of ParaAaque to continue the preliminary investigation of the subject cases," Catalan added.

The cases were transferred to the Department of Justice (DOJ) from the ParaAaque City prosecutor's office after the reported leakage to Okada's camp of the resolutions clearing the billionaire in the estafa charges.

In seeking his inhibition, TRLEI cited Catalan's earlier approval of a resolution junking perjury charges against Okada and the company's former president Takahiro Usui on March 19, a decision the company has since appealed before the DOJ.

"TRLEI fears that if Prosecutor Catalan were to decide the cases or choose the prosecutor who would take over the cases, they would wrongfully and unfairly suffer a similar fate as the case in Makati City, the motion stated.

A June 1 letter from the DOJ to lawyers of Tiger Resort showed that Guevarra's office will designate a new prosecutor to handle the estafa cases.

TRLEI has accused Paranaque City Prosecutor Amerhassan Paudac of leaking the resolutions of his office dismissing the complaint for two separate estafa complaints to Okada's close companion, Chloe Kim, who posted it on her Facebook and Instagram accounts last May 18.

Tiger Resort said even its legal counsels have yet to be given access to the said resolutions as of May 21.

Okada, who is the subject of a lookout bulletin order issued by the DOJ, served as chief executive officer of TRLEI, local subsidiary of Japanese firm Universal Entertainment Corporation (UEC) and owner and operator of casino resort-hotel Okada Manila.

He was booted out of the company in June last year and subsequently sued for estafa.

In the first estafa case, TRLEI accused Okada of illegal disbursement of company funds amounting to USD3 million supposedly for his consultancy fees and salaries during his one-month tenure as CEO.

TRLEI alleged that Okada himself, within a span of just one month, caused the disbursement of the corporate funds through his accomplice, Takahiro Usui, who was then TRLEI president and chief operating officer and who was also named respondent in the complaint.

The second estafa case, on the other hand, involves the supply of light emitting diode (LED) fixtures to Okada Manila by Okada's personal company, Aruze Philippines Manufacturing Inc (APMI).

TRLEI alleged that the USD7-million supply contract was given to APMI upon the behest of Okada, in conspiracy with his close associate, Kengo Takeda, who was the former Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of TRLEI.

Okada had faced criminal charges for violation of the Anti-Dummy Law before the DOJ, which was filed by the NBI during the previous administration.

However, the case was not resolved and has reportedly been remanded to the NBI for reinvestigation.

Aside from the cases filed in the Philippines, Okada is also facing a string of cases in South Korea, Hong Kong and Tokyo, Japan. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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