MANILA, Philippines - It isn't just gaming officials who availed of posh accommodations from Wynn Resorts.
Former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo also stayed for free at a $4,000-a-night suite at the Wynn Resorts Los Angeles from November 12 to 17, 2009, according to Wynn Resorts.
Arroyo's Las Vegas stay coincided with a boxing match between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto on November 14, 2009.
Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio confirmed that Mr. Arroyo watched the Pacquiao-Cotto fight live in Las Vegas but said he will still verify if Arroyo stayed at Wynn Resorts Las Vegas.
He said there was no conflict of interest or unethical about Arroyo's stay since he is not a public official unlike his wife, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. He added that Mr. Arroyo has no influence over the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
Topacio said the $4,000-a-night suite is considered a gift from casino tycoon Kazuo Okada to his friend, Arroyo.
US-based Wynn Resorts filed a suit on Tuesday accusing Okada of spending more than $110,000 in travel expenses and gifts on the officials so that Okada's gaming resort in Manila would get its license from the regulator.
The suit against Okada alleged the suspect payments were made to then PAGCOR chairman Efraim Genuino and current chair Cristino Naguiat from 2008 to last year. The top officials' relatives and associates were also beneficiaries, as was the current chairman's nanny and the husband of then-president Gloria Arroyo, the suit alleged.
PAGCOR has already granted a provisional agreement for Okada's company Universal Entertainment to operate a casino in the Philippines. Universal's $2 billion casino at PAGCOR's Entertainment City is due for completion in 2014.
PAGCOR Vice President Francis Hernando earlier said Naguiat and other officials had accepted free hotel stays at Wynn's Macau resort, but said this was standard business practice. Naguiat also said there was no conflict of interest in accepting the free stay at Wynn Macau.
Topacio, meanwhile, said the Wynn Resorts report was deliberately malicious since it was used to remove Okada's stake in the company. He said the report was self-serving to prove that there was alleged bribery.
Naguiat found a defender in House games and amusement committee chairman Amado Bagatsing. Bagatsing said Naguiat was merely caught in the crossfire in the fight between Okada and Steve Wynn. With reports from Jing Castañeda, ABS-CBN News; and Agence France-Presse