Okada sues family in bid to regain control of gambling empire » Manila Bulletin Business



By Reuters

Tokyo – Japanese casino and slot machine tycoon Kazuo Okada has filed a lawsuit against his son, daughter, and wife in Hong Kong in an attempt to regain control of his sprawling business empire, according to a court filing and Okada.

Kazuo Okada

Okada, 74, told Reuters in an interview that he saw a lawsuit as the only way to get his son and daughter to the negotiating table after they took control of the board of a Hong Kong company at the center of his business holdings in May.

Okada Holdings Ltd, the Hong Kong company that is majority owner of Tokyo-listed gambling machine maker Universal Entertainment Corp, is also a defendant in the suit, according to the Hong Kong High Court online database, though Okada himself didn’t confirm that. It was unclear on what grounds the suit was brought and no other details were available from the court.

Okada declined to respond to questions about the details of the suit, which Reuters was unable to view, but said he believed he had been wronged by the move to push him out as director of Okada Holdings, a change that was registered on May 12, according to a public filing.

Okada said he hasn’t seen his son Tomohiro in two years and does not know his daughter Hiromi’s current whereabouts. Reuters was unable to reach either of them at addresses in public records. Both are Okada’s children from a previous marriage.

Okada said he hoped a lawsuit would prompt a judge to order them to negotiate a settlement that would restore his position at Okada Holdings.

“Unless I sue there will be no opportunity to talk. The reality is I am in a losing position in terms of voting rights,” Okada said, referring to his 46.4 percent stake in Okada Holdings, versus Tomohiro and Hiromi’s combined 53 percent.

Okada said he did not find out he was dropped as Okada Holdings’ director until May 18. He said Universal’s board told him on May 23 that he was being investigated for alleged misuse of company funds. That was followed by Universal’s announcement on May 31 that he would not be reappointed to its board.

“I was totally blindsided,” Okada said.

The interview took place last Thursday in the restaurant of a Tokyo hotel where Universal was holding its annual shareholders’ meeting. Okada had been denied entry on the grounds he is not a direct shareholder since the Hong Kong holding firm holds his stake.

Universal declined to respond to Okada’s assertions. It said it would make additional disclosures once an internal investigation it recently launched to probe Okada’s alleged improper use of company funds had submitted its findings.

Okada said Tomohiro turned against him because his son believed he was not being paid dividends from Universal commensurate with his 43.5 percent stake in Okada Holdings. Okada said he planned to investigate the matter.

Okada said he was confident he could convince Hiromi to support him as long as he could get her brother to work towards a settlement.

As for his wife Takako, Okada said he could not forgive her for agreeing to be reappointed to Universal’s board. The company said Thursday that Takako would take on responsibility for Okada’s art museum and advise the company on its overseas business.

Takako, 43, did not respond to letters left at her home, an email sent to her company address, or a request to speak relayed through her mother.

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