Okada group sues Reuters for reporting on Pagcor ‘payments’

Rappler.com
The group of Japanese billionaire Kazue Okada has sued Reuters and 3 of its journalists for defamation over the financial news group's reporting of alleged payments to influence government officials in Manila

MANILA, Philippines – The group of Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada has sued Reuters and 3 of its journalists for defamation over the financial news group’s reporting of alleged payments to influence government officials in Manila.

Reuters said on December 4 that Okada-led Universal Entertainment filed the lawsuit with a court in Tokyo.

“We stand by our reporting,” Reuters said.

This lawsuit followed another that Okada recently filed against 3 former Universal employees for the transfer of some US$15 million to firms led by Rodolfo Soriano, a former consultant of the casino regulator and operator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor).

Okada and his firms are facing an investigation by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the regulator of Universal’s businesses in the United States.

Part of the Nevada investigation are the alleged payments to the regulators in Manila, where the Okada group are players in the upcoming casino venture that will put the Philippines in the world gambling map.

In a series of investigative reports, Reuters said it trailed the transfer of some US$30 million funds from the US to Hong Kong then to the Soriano-controlled firms, including one that is British Virgin Island-registered.

Reuters said these payments were made as “bonus” for the additional tax incentives granted to the Japanese group on top of the franchise Pagcor awarded to it. These payments were made in the first 6 months of 2010, before the former Arroyo administration ended.

In Manila, the Department of Justice are investigating the payments, while the House of Representatives is conducting hearings in aid of legislation. – Rappler.com