Tourism executive defends Naguiat

Posted at 03/18/2012 3:58 PM | Updated as of 03/18/2012 11:36 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A tourism executive defended today the leadership of Philippine Amusement Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) Chairman and Chief Executive Cristino Naguiat.

Former consul Robert Lim Joseph, chairman emeritus of the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies, said he does not see anything wrong in receiving complimentary hotel accommodations. He said there is no basis in accusing Naguiat of impropriety.

“The hotel accommodations, even if they were first-class and other freebies are very common in the industry,” he said.

“Of course, when gaming officials go here, we also would give them the best. We will not place them in a cheap hotel. It would always be first-class accommodations,” he added.

The issue stemmed from the lawsuit filed by the United States-based Wynn Resorts against its estranged business partner, Japanese casino magnate Kazuo Okada.

Okada allegedly violated the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act when he spent $110,000 on Pagcor chief Cristino Naguiat and other officials to ensure that plans for a casino here will push through.

Okada allegedly billeted Naguiat and his family in Wynn Macau’s most expensive suite for five days in 2010. The suite is supposedly priced at $6,000 a night.

Naguiat already denied the bribery charges.

Joseph said Naguiat can’t even be charged with bribery since Okada’s gaming license had already been approved prior to Naguiat’s visit to Macau.

“So there’s more reason to dismiss allegations that Naguiat was bribed to allow Okada to operate his business in the country,” he said.

He also pointed out that no less than US casino mogul Sheldon Adelson made statements there is nothing wrong with giving hotel accommodations to VIPs.