Prosecution chief recuses himself from Okada cases


The $10-million estafa charges filed against Japanese gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada hit a snag after acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr. decided to inhibit himself from handling the cases.

The multimillion-dollar estafa case against Okada was filed by Okada Manila hotel operator, Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment Inc. (TRLEI).

Record showed Okada was sacked from the company in June last year and a estafa case was filed against him subsequently.

The first estafa case was filed against Okada by TRLEI for alleged illegal disbursement of company funds amounting to $3 million apparently for his consultancy fees and salaries during his one-month tenure as CEO.

But it was alleged in the charges that Okada within a span of one month disbursed 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.

A second estafa case was filed against him involving the supply of light emitting diode (LED) fixtures to Okada Manila by Okada’s personal company, Aruze Philippines Manufacturing Inc. (APMI).

The $7-million supply contract based on the case filed by TRLEI was given to APMI upon the behest of Okada, in conspiracy with his close associate, Kengo Takeda, who was the former chief technology officer of TRLEI.

Catalan, on the other hand, sent a memorandum to Justicce Secretary Menardo Guevarra on June 8, informing the Justice chief that he granted the motion of TRLEI asking his inhibition from the Okada estafa cases.

The complainant cited Catalan’s 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 it appealed before the DoJ, in seeking the acting prosecutor’s inhibition from handling the case.

TRLEI, in its motion for inhibition, expressed fears that if 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.

“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 Parañaque City,” the memorandum stated.

Catalan in giving in to the motion of the complainant stated in his memorandum that he is leaving it to the sound discretion and judgment of the Justice chief to issue a department order for the designation of a member of the National Prosecution Service as acting city prosecutor of Parañaque to continue the preliminary investigation of the subject cases.

The cases were transferred to the Department of Justice (DoJ) from the Parañaque City Prosecutor’s Office after the reported leakage to Okada’s camp of the resolutions clearing the billionaire in the estafa charges.

A June 1 letter by 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 Parañaque 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.

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