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Asia round-up: Okada court hearing set; Philippines seeks legitimacy & Vietnam

Japan’s Universal Entertainment says a bid from the Okada Group to quash charges of “grave coercion” against Kazuo Okada has been denied. 

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The charges placed against Okada relate to his alleged forceful takeover of the casino on 31 May 2022.  

Universal Entertainment cited the decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Paranaque in revealing the information.  

It read: “All told, the information, in this case, is sufficient, and the motion to quash in the omnibus motion of the accused must necessarily fail. 

“Considering that the allegations were sufficiently subscribed against the accused in this case, the next logical step for this court is to ascertain the veracity of said allegations in a full-blown trial to determine whether or not the accused are guilty of the offense charged in this case.” 

According to Universal’s information, the pre-trial hearing of Okada is scheduled to take place on 28 October. 

Furthermore, there is another arraignment and pre-trial hearing at a separate court, slated for 7 November and 5 December respectively. 

The news of Okada’s trial follows comments his legal spokesperson, Attorney Rico Quicho, made to Gambling Insider earlier this month. 

Quicho said: “No forceful or illegal takeover happened last 31 May – and we believe all our actions are legal.  

“The Okada-led management enforced the Supreme Court’s SQAO with the assistance and coordination of the PNP, and PAGCOR, as gaming regulatory agencies.” 

It seems despite its firm beliefs, the Okada Group must prove Okada’s innocence in a court of law.  

Philippines’ AML watchdog attempting to take country off FATF grey list 

Staying in the Philippines, the country’s anti-money laundering (AML) watchdog is supposedly working to remove it from the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF). 

FAFT currently has the Philippines registered as a grey-listed market, but the Philippines’ Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) noted its belief that guidelines are in place to enforce greater AML and combat the finance of terrorism (CFT) controls.  

This is what the AMLC believes will get the Philippines removed from the FATF grey list.  

One key issue that the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has noted is that casino operators must assess the fitness of junket operators that work to bring clients to their properties. 

Should casinos better establish relations with legitimate junkets, this will help remove the Philippines from the FATF grey list, according to PAGCOR. 

Vietnam Ministry of Finance seeks pilot extension at Phu Quoc casino 

In Vietnam, the Ministry of Finance has asked for a two-year extension of a three-year pilot programme that allows Vietnamese people to gamble at a casino on Phu Quoc Island. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has badly affected the casino’s operations over the last two years, with the Kien Giang People’s Committee also asking for an extension at the casino in the southern province of Kien Giang. The pilot programme is set to finish at the end of the year. 

Deputy Minister of Finance Nguyen Duc Chi has confirmed the ministry has asked for approval to extend the programme until the end of 2024. Social distancing meant few foreigners could enter Vietnam, while Vietnamese people were also restricted from going out except in urgent situations. 

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