THE newly constituted board of directors of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) has ordered the current board of directors of Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment, Inc. (TRLEI), operator of Okada Manila, to vacate the premises of Okada Manila immediately. casino game and its offices.
Pagcor issued the “cease and desist” (CDO) order pursuant to the Department of Justice (DoJ) notice dated September 1, which confirmed the power and authority of the gambling regulator. to act on the appeal of Tiger Resort Asia Ltd. (TRAL), which owns 99.9% of TRLEI, to regain control of the hotel-casino’s board of directors.
However, Pagcor said in its September 2 resolution that it would continue to abide by the Standstill Ante Order (SQAO) issued by the Supreme Court on April 27, 2022 and would only recognize Japanese gambling tycoon Kazuo Okada as as a shareholder, director, president. and CEO of TRLEI.
TRLEI’s current board is led by Filipino businessman Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco and Dindo Espeleta.
Pagcor, led by Alejandro Tengco, has made it clear in its resolution that it withdraws its recognition of Espeleta as an authorized representative of TRLEI unless it is able to demonstrate its authority with the advice of the SQAO and the DoJ.
Pagcor officials have also ordered the current board of directors to cease performing their duties in connection with the casino’s operations.
The Cojuangco-led board has also been ordered to stop disbursing further funds to the Okada Manila cage “unless it is able to present valid authority” in accordance with the SQAO.
In addition, Pagcor directed Okada Manila management to allow TRAL applicants access to Okada Manila premises and to assume the operation and management of TRLEI.
In his view, the DoJ said that as a licensee, TRLEI falls under the jurisdiction of Pagcor, just as all companies are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The DoJ said the nomination and election of TRLEI directors must be approved by Pagcor in writing and that any violation could be grounds for revocation or suspension of the license.
The DoJ said Pagcor has the authority to issue a CDO to prevent imminent fraud or injury to the public.
“Pagcor would be failing in its duties as a casino regulator [if] he would do nothing to address alarming reports submitted by TRAL of major problems or theft of casino funds, thus putting the casino on the brink of disastrous bankruptcy. This will have a serious impact on the gaming industry to the detriment of the public,” the DoJ said.
The DoJ took the view that the SQAO, which was used by Kazuo as a basis to replace former TRLEI board members, merely required Kazuo’s return as a shareholder, director, president and CEO, the positions he held before being expelled in 2017 for corruption.
The DoJ said the SQAO issued by the Supreme Court did not authorize Kazuo to form a new TRLEI board of directors and make himself TRAL’s sole representative.
The DoJ ruled that the Kazuo Group’s actions exceeded and violated the explicit language of the SQAO, noting that the usurping board members do not have TRLEI shares and are not qualified to serve as directors. .
The DoJ pointed out that the SC itself had refused to act on Kazuo’s request to reinstate him as TRAL’s sole representative in TRLEI.
On Friday, more than 50 people posing as Pagcor employees, supposedly on the instructions of TRAL, stormed Okada Manila to implement Pagcor’s CDO.
A scuffle ensued when Okada Manila security personnel barricaded themselves in the basement parking lot leading to the hotel-casino entrance.
Those who attempted to storm the Okada Manila offices wore white shirts and red caps. They were led by James Lorenzana, a ousted former board member of TRLEI.
They were pushed back by Okada Manila security personnel.