MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang remains confident that foreign investors would not be affected by the threat of a committee in the House of Representatives to ban US casino magnate Steve Wynn from doing business in the Philippines.
“The Philippines has been identified as an attractive haven for investment by analysts and credit ratings agencies. They will come to the Philippines on the basis of favorable investment atmosphere provided by the Aquino administration,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing on Tuesday, February 28.
On Monday, February 28, the members of the House gaming and amusement committee proposed to bar Wynn, a controlling stockholder of Wynn Resorts Ltd. during a probe on the activities of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), the state-run gambling regulator.
Several lawmakers took the side of Pagcor chair Cristino Naguiat who had claimed that he was caught in the crossfire between friends-turned-enemies Japanese tycoon Kazuo Okada and Wynn.
Steve Wynn and Okada, the single biggest shareholder of Wynn Resorts, are suing each other. Wynn’s case against Okada cited the documented payments and gifts amounting to over $110,000 spent on Pagcor officials in the past 3 years.
President Aquino had ordered an investigation of Naguiat‘s actions, which include accepting freebies from Okada during the Pagcor chief’s stay at a US$6,000-a-night suit at Wynn Macau.
The Palace had previously issued statements favorable to Naguiat, a friend and classmate of President Aquino.
Just one investor
President Aquino said as much in an ambush interview at the University of Santo Tomas when, in response to questions, he said that “Wynn is just one investor” and that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) had informed him of many other investors eyeing the Philippines.
“I was just given a 3-page list of investors who have actually come in who are already scouting [for]…properties that they need because the quantity of land that they need is rather substantial,” Aquino said, adding that one investor is looking for a 10-hectare parcel of land for a factory.
But he declined to say whether he favored the House ban, since the Palace investigation on Wynn’s allegations against Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) Chairman Cristino Naguiat is not yet finished.
“I am not comfortable having a categorical statement prior to the determination of the investigation,” he said.
In its suit against Okada, Wynn Resorts said Mr. Wynn did not want to join Okada in investing in the Philippines since he had come to a conclusion that corruption was “deeply ingrained” in the industry, and even President Aquino’s plans for reforms would not eliminate it. – Rappler.com