Okada's company mulls legal action vs Reuters

Posted at 12/04/2012 3:10 PM | Updated as of 12/04/2012 11:42 PM

 Reuters says it stands by its stories

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada's Universal Entertainment Corp. on Tuesday said it is mulling legal action against Reuters for its report alleging it funnelled millions of dollars to an ex-consultant of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor). 

In a statement, Universal Entertainment denied allegations made in a Reuters report that it gave payments to officials of Pagcor for its casino business in the Philippines. It slammed Reuters for "misrepresenting" and "ignoring" the facts in two reports published on November 16 and 30. 

"Their (Reuters) stories contain misrecognition of facts and biases that could have been easily avoided had Reuters engaged in fair and appropriate reporting. Reuters has reported that our corporate group has given the massive sum of US $40 million to the government and other related institutions between December 2009 and May 2010 in our Philippines' business. This is a clear misrecognition of the facts," the company said. 

Reuters, however, said its stories on Universal were fair.  "Our stories are accurate and fair and we stand by them and our reporting," said a Reuters spokesperson.

Reuters reported last November 30 that Universal Entertainment gave at least $30 million to Rodolfo Soriano, a former Pagcor consultant, in 2010. Soriano, who had close ties with members of the Arroyo administration, allegedly received the payments as Universal Entertainment was lobbying for tax and other government concessions for its $2 billion casino development.

"Reuters' reporting is full of malice and our company firmly objects to this. We believe that Reuters should be fully held to account legally for the damage brought about through their biased reporting, and we are exploring the possibility of taking legal actions against them," Universal Entertainment said. 

Universal Entertainment said it has already submitted details of its Philippine business transactions to the Nevada gaming authorities. 

Universal, a manufacturer of gaming machines, further noted that Reuters received the "unfavorable" information from ligitants involved in its legal dispute, including Wynn Resorts. 

The Philippine government is investigating the allegations of payments made by Universal Entertainment to Soriano. Authorities have threatened to revoke Universal's casino license if investigators find evidence of bribery. 

Universal said its compliance committee had already reported about its business in the Philippines to Nevada gaming authorities and that it was "certain that the facts of this case will be brought to light in the near future".

Universal, majority owned by Okada and his son through a family trust, has filed lawsuits against three former employees of the Universal group for $15 million of the payments, claiming they made the money transfers without proper authorization. - With Reuters