Casino giant Kazuo Okada files lawsuit against family to regain control of vast business empire

Last month, Casinopedia reported on the extended investigation into the business dealings of Japanese casino and slot machine giant, Kazuo Okada.

Kazuo Okada
Kazuo Okada

Now, according to Reuters, 74-year-old Okada has filed a lawsuit against his wife, his son, and his daughter in a bid to “regain control” of his vast business kingdom.

According to the business tycoon, as reported by Reuters, Okada sees the lawsuit as “the only way” to negotiate with his family over the company at the core of his empire.

Family feuds

Although it is yet to be confirmed by Okada, Okada Holdings Ltd – the majority owner of Universal Entertainment Corp – will also be a defendant in the case against Okada’s son and daughter.

Universal is known for making slot machines and pachinko machines – the Japanese gambling game that is a cross between a slot and pinball, and is a $200 billion industry in Japan alone.

Also still to be confirmed are the grounds of the reported lawsuit, say Reuters, as Okada has so far failed to comment on any details.

However, it is believed by Reuters that Okada thinks “he had been wronged by the move to push him out as director of Okada Holdings.”

It is reported that Okada has not seen Tomohiro, his son, for 2 years, and that he does not even know where his daughter Hiromi is.

Okada has said of his 46 percent stake in the company: “Unless I sue there will no opportunity to talk. The reality is I am in a losing position in terms of voting rights.” Currently, Tomohiro and Hiromi hold a 53% stake in Okada Holdings.

The decision to oust him as a director of Okada Holdings Ltd came as a shock; Okada has said that he was not told immediately, only discovering that he was under investigation for “alleged misuse of company funds” on May 18. He later found out that he was not to be reappointed to its board of directors.

He was dropped from Okada Holdings’ as a director on May 12, according to a public filing.

Can he forgive and forget?

Reuters reports that Okada is of the opinion that his son, Tomohiro, “turned against him” upon discovering that he was not being paid dividends from Universal Entertainment Corp, to which his father replied that he would investigate.

Meanwhile, Okada at least thought that his daughter, Hiromi, would stand by him in his bid to get Tomohiro to the negotiating table.

Also in the suit is Okada’s 43-year-old wife Takako. Reuters report that Okada has said that he “could not forgive her for agreeing to be reappointed to Universal’s board.” In this role, she will be responsible for Okada’s museum of art and for giving advice to the company’s overseas businesses.

Tricky transactions

As reported last month, Universal Entertainment Corp accused the casino giant, alongside another director, of “misappropriating some $20 million in company funds in three transactions during 2015.”

Okada replied that these claims were “nonsense,” instead attributing the transactions to a more “legitimate” purpose – namely, to increase junket operations and attract VIPs to his company’s casino in the Philippines.

Okada reported that he was unable to retrieve a copy of the contract because he no longer had access to the office at which it was being stored.

Okada puts all this down to Jun Fujimoto, president of Universal Entertainment Corp. According to Okada, Fujimoto now “wants to take over.” In response to this claim, Fujimoto called Okada “unfit” to be a director on the company’s board, and he “vows” to provide physical evidence to prove this.

Reuters attempted to contact Universal and Fujimoto as well as two new Okada Holdings directors for comment – without success.

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