DOJ takes over estafa raps vs. Okada

MANILA The Department of Justice (DOJ) is taking jurisdiction over the USD10-million estafa cases filed by Okada Manila hotel operator, Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment, Inc. (TRLEI), against Japanese gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra disclosed on Tuesday that he has also tasked the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the leak of the resolutions of ParaAaque City Prosecutor Amerhassan Paudac on the cases, through the social media accounts of Okada's South Korean girlfriend, Chloe Kim, even before it was officially released to the parties.

We have requested the NBI to investigate the leak. I understand that Prosecutor Paudac has inhibited himself. So DOJ will handle any further motions or incidents in the Okada cases, Guevarra said in a text message sent to reporters.

Last June 1, Tiger Resorts filed a seven-page manifestation and motion asking the DOJ to investigate Paudac for violating the rules and procedures, and the Code of Conduct for Prosecutors in handling cases before his office.

Guevarra said he did not see such motion, but any further incident will be handled and resolved by the DOJ.

TRLEI has accused Paudac of bias and partiality for supposedly leaking copies of his resolutions that dismissed the estafa cases against Okada, the dispositive portions of which, landed on the social media accounts of Kim.

TRLEI is the owner and operator of the posh Okada Manila at the sprawling Entertainment City in ParaAaque where Okada was its chief executive officer before he was expelled last year for embezzling more than USD10 million in company funds.

In a complaint, TRLEI asked Guevarra to stop Paudac from investigating the leak, which he himself ordered, fearing a whitewash of the probe, and for the justice chief to assume jurisdiction over the case.

Paudac subsequently inhibited himself but did not deny that the resolutions had indeed been leaked, and proceeded to officially release them, saying that the resolutions are maintained.

And instead of completely turning over the records of the case to the DOJ and distancing from the case, Paudac formed a panel to look into the leakage and even requested the NBI to make a forensic examination of Kim's social media accounts to determine if the posts are fake or not, and how and from whom said account holder was able to obtain said photographs.

The formation of an investigating panel when he himself would be investigated is improper, self-serving and unjustified, and would only preempt the investigation that should be conducted by the DOJ, Tiger Resort pointed out.

The company asked the justice chief to nullify Paudac's investigation order and restrain the panel from conducting the probe of the leakage.

It is the DOJ, not the panel formed by Paudac, that should properly investigate the leakage of the resolutions that happened at the ParaAaque prosecutor's office, it said.

TRLEI has sued Okada before the ParaAaque Prosecutor's Office over unauthorized disbursements of more than USD10 million of the company's funds between early 2016 and June 2017.

Tiger Resort filed separate complaints for two counts of estafa against Okada before the ParaAaque City Prosecutor's Office and another charge of perjury before the Makati City Prosecutor's Office.

It accused Okada of illegal disbursement of company funds amounting to more than USD3 million, supposedly for his consultancy fees and salaries during his one-month tenure as CEO.

Okada had faced criminal charges for violation of the Anti-Dummy Law before the DOJ, which was filed by the NBI during the previous administration.

However, the case was not resolved and has reportedly been remanded to the NBI for reinvestigation.

Aside from the charges filed in the Philippines, Okada is also facing a string of cases in South Korea, Hong Kong and Tokyo, Japan. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency