JAPANESE pachinko king Kazuo Okada scored big in the corporate tug-of-war over a posh casino hotel in Paranaque.
This after the Court of Appeals (CA) threw out a lower court ruling which earlier found merit to put to trial for estafa the former chairman and chief executive officer of the Okada Manila hotel resort.
In a decision dated December 9, 2021 but obtained only recently, the CA also quashed a Paranaque regional trial court order of arrest against the pachinko king based on complaints by Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment Inc. (TRLEI), the Philippine firm that owns and operates the hotel and gaming company.
In June 2017, Okada was booted from his post and removed from the board along with TRLEI president and chief operating officer Takahiro Usui.
Okada was accused of misappropriating funds.
In May 2019, Paranaque Regional Trial Court Branch 257 judge Rolando How ruled against Okada finding probable cause to prosecute him for estafa for alleged unauthorized disbursement of $3.1 million in TRLEI funds.
The lower court also issued warrants of arrest for the Japanese businessman. Usui was also ordered arrested.
Okada and Usui challenged the trial court decision before the appellate court.
In its December 2021 decision, the CA said the lower court committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing warrants of arrest against Okada and his associate despite the absence of probable cause.
“There was lack of probable cause to issue warrants of arrest because not all the elements of the crime of estafa was proved,” the ruling penned by Associate Justice Alfredo D. Ampuan said.
The CA said Okada did not receive the money – in the form of consultancy fees and salary – in trust with the duty to return them to TRLEI.
“There was no misappropriation or conversion by Mr. Okada of the money received,” the decision concurred by two other associate justices Pedro Corales and Bonifacio Pascua added.
The CA explained that the amount paid to Okada was not entrusted to him for safekeeping or administration. Rather, it was paid to him by TRLEI in consideration for services rendered as consultant and CEO, it further said.
Accordingly, the CA ruled that the criminal cases against Mr. Okada and Usui are dismissed and the warrants for their arrest recalled and quashed.