MANILA, Philippines - House committee chairman on Games and Amusement Rep. Amado Bagatsing believes Macau-based gambling bosses could be behind the vilification drive against one of the investors of the Entertainment City project in Manila.
During a congressional hearing, the Committee on Games and Amusement failed to find solid proof to support accusations that Kazuo Okada, head of the Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment, spent some $15 million to bribe former Philippine gaming regulators into granting Tiger a license to operate one of the four entertainment and hotel resorts at Entertainment City.
In the hearing attended by officials of the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) and Tiger, Pagcor president Jorge Sarmiento and vice president for legal affairs Jay Daniel Santiago admitted that alleged bribe recipient Rodolfo Soriano received the money in 2010.
However, it was revealed that Okada received the license from Pagcor in 2008 or 2 years before the alleged bribery took place.
Santiago also said Soriano was no longer connected with Pagcor in 2010 because his employment contract lasted only for 3 months in 2006 during the time of former Pagcor chairman Efraim Genuino.
A paper trail presented by ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio indicated that the $5 million and $10 million disbursements came from Universal Entertainment, another Okada-led firm in Japan, and was sent via money transfer to Soriano in May 2010.
The money transfers were sent to Soriano's firm, Future Fortune Limited, by Japanese Mitsuo Hida, an official of the Tokyo-based Universal.
Bagatsing, chairman of the investigating congressional panel, said it was very unlikely for Okada or any businessman to bribe "virtual lameducks" who are expected to be replaced.
Masahiro Terada, Okada's representative to the Philippines, revealed that the $10 million was returned to Universal on the same day it was illegally sent to a Future Fortune Limited.
He said three Universal officials led by Hida and two other Japanese have been fired for the $15 million disbursement without the knowledge of the Tokyo entertainment firm's board of directors.