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MANILA, Philippines – If the reports are proven true that former officials of state regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) received bribes in 2010, the Aquino government will not think twice about revoking the casino license granted to a Japanese tycoon.
“If there’s a proof that the license was obtained through bribery, then there may be reasons to consider cancelling the contract,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told a press briefing on Monday, November 19.
Lacierda was responding to allegations raised by a Reuters report that former Pagcor Chairman Efraim Genuino and former consultant Rodolfo Soriano received around US$5 million in exchange for incentives for the $2 billion casino project of billionaire Kazuo Okada at the upcoming Entertainment City in Pasay.
In a statement issued also on November 19, Pagcor echoed the Malacañang warning: “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.”
“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 added.
Both Malacañang and Pagcor, however, said “due process” must still be observed.
Pagcor noted that Okada is a “major investor in the Philippines” and that it will give the Japanese’s units the “chance to address all the issues affecting their provisional license for the operation of a casino facility in the Entertainment City project.”
Pagcor also said it has already referred the case to the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). It also said it is “willing to cooperate with both local and international authorities” that are investigating the bribery allegations.
The US gambling regulator is already probing the reported transfer of funds from Okada-led units in Nevada to Hong Kong and onto bank accounts of firms led by Soriano.
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago has already filed a resolution at the Senate to commence investigations on whether the former Pagcor officials violated anti-graft laws. – Rappler.com