Talks with Okada continue despite FBI probe - Gokongwei

by Kathleen A. Martin,

Posted at Jan 17 2013 05:48 PM | Updated as of Jan 18 2013 01:48 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Discussions to finalize a contract with the Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment, Inc. for a $1-billion gaming complex are still underway despite an FBI probe on the Okada group, Robinsons Land Corp. said on Thursday.

"There's no contract yet. We're in joint venture discussions," Lance Y. Gokongwei, vice chairman at Robinsons Land, told reporters.

When asked if his firm were contacted by the FBI, Gokongwei said "All our discussions with the Okada group have transpired after the licenses have been given."

US authorities have been investigating the Okada group's Universal Entertainment Corp. for a potential bribery case. The FBI have also brought the investigation to Manila after reports surfaced of Universal's payments to a Philippine government consultant for the gaming firm's casino project on Manila Bay.

In December, Robinsons Land struck an agreement with Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment for a $1-billion gaming complex in PAGCOR's Entertainment City.

"RLC will have a stake in the property but we are exploring a joint venture on the operating side," Gokongwei explained.

He stressed "there's no need to rush" the process of signing a contract with the Okada firm.

If things push through, the gaming complex is scheduled to open in 2014. The complex is planned to have three hotels, a gaming hub, a shopping mall, a trade hall, luxury retail stores and restaurants.