Press statement on reported payment of US$5-M to a former PAGCOR consultant by affiliates of Universal Entertainment

Monday | November 19, 2012 | 3:30 PM

It was only through news reports that the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) learned about the supposed payment by Universal Entertainment affiliates of US$5 million to Mr. Rodolfo Soriano, Jr., a former consultant of the agency during the term of the previous PAGCOR management.

The Reuters report that US gaming regulators are investigating the alleged pay-off to Mr. Soriano when the group of Mr. Kazuo Okada’s Universal Entertainment was applying for a license in the PAGCOR Entertainment City project during the administration of Mr. Efraim Genuino contains serious allegations. PAGCOR is referring the matter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to seek their assistance in coordinating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to find out the veracity of this report and to get to the bottom of the alleged pay-off. PAGCOR is willing to cooperate with both local and international authorities on this.

PAGCOR welcomes the new allegation of corruption unearthed by US investigators against former officials of the gaming agency. It will help PAGCOR to further strengthen its plunder case against Mr. Soriano and Mr. Genuino which we filed last 2011.

The case pertains to the misappropriation of at least P186 million in relation to questionable transactions that benefited the Batang Iwas Droga Foundation, Inc. (BIDA) and other BIDA entities from 2003 to 2010. Under Mr. Genuino’s management, PAGCOR entered into irregular deals with BIDA Foundation which did not go through public bidding. This covered procurement of goods and services for BIDA, financial subsidies and grants to the foundation and advertisement on various radio and television networks, all paid by PAGCOR.

PAGCOR reiterates that while a license for the operation of a casino facility in the Entertainment City has already been issued in favor of Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment, Inc., the state-owned gaming agency can still cancel the said license if it is proven that they have indeed resorted to bribery in order to secure the said license. But again, due process must still be observed.

Apart from this particular issue, Universal Entertainment also has to settle the contentious land ownership issue in their proposed site at the Entertainment City. PAGCOR already referred the matter to the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) which came out with an opinion that the ownership of the land must be remedied since it violates constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership. PAGCOR already advised the group of Mr. Okada that until such time that they have resolved the land ownership issue, they cannot open their casino operations.

The group of Mr. Okada is a major investor in the Philippines and this is the reason why PAGCOR is giving them a chance to address all the issues affecting their provisional license for the operation of a casino facility in the Entertainment City project.

If the group of Mr. Okada will be proven beyond reasonable doubt that they have violated Philippine laws and they fail to comply with the provisions of the provisional license issued to them, they cannot commence their casino operations.

PAGCOR assures the public that its management’s decision on the issues at hand will be based on what is sanctioned by law and the conditions prescribed in the provisional license given to the group of Mr. Okada for their casino project in the Entertainment City

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