Pagcor to investigate alleged $5M bribe to ex-consultant

Posted at 11/19/12 10:24 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) will investigate the alleged $5 million bribe given by a company led by Japanese gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada to its former consultant, during the time it was lobbying to win concessions for a $2 billion casino.

In an interview on dzMM's Failon Ngayon, Pagcor chief legal counsel Jay Santiago said the agency will cooperate with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) probe into the $5 million bribe allegedly given by the Okada group to Rodolfo Soriano. 

"Kami din ay nasopresa na grabe pala talaga ang nangayari... Ang gagawin natin ay magpapatulong tayo sa DOJ (Department of Justice) at NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) para makipag-coordinate sa Federal Bureau of Investigation, para malaman ang report, kung kailangan ng aksyon," he said. 

If the alleged bribe given to Soriano is proven, Santiago said the license of Okada's casino project in Entertainment City may be reviewed for possible cancellation. 

"Kung lalabas sa inbestigasyon na talagang di karapatdapat na ang grupo ni Mr. Okada na mag may-ari ng isang lisensya na ipinagkaloob ng Pagcor, ay hindi natin ipatutuloy. If kailangan kanselahin, eh kakanselahin. Kailangan matapos muna ang imbestigasyon at mapatunayan ang mga allegasyon sa report," Santiago said. 

Okada's Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment Inc. is one of the 4 groups given a license to operate a casino in Pagcor's Entertainment City. Okada is planning to build a $2-billion world-class resort-casino complex in Entertainment City. The group has also teamed up with Andrew Tan's Empire East Land Holdings to develop a luxury residential resort condominium project.

Reuters reported that an Okada-led Universal subsidiary made a $5 million payment in May 2010 to Soriano, a close associate of the former head of the Philippine gaming regulator, according to documents. The payment was made via a shell company in Hong Kong and was part of $40 million in transfers made by Universal's U.S. affiliate Aruze USA that are now a focus for investigators.

The document trail connecting Soriano to the $5 million payment has not been previously reported.

It's not clear whether Okada, 70 and ranked 18th among Japan's wealthiest by Forbes, personally approved the payments. Universal, more than two-thirds controlled by Okada and his son through Okada Holdings LLC, has filed suit against three ex-employees saying they acted without proper authorization in channeling $15 million of the total through Hong Kong-registered Future Fortune Ltd.

Soriano could not be reached for comment at this time. - With Reuters, ANC and dzMM