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House probes ‘bribery’ allegations

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Why would a company pay a $5-million bribe two years after getting a provisional license from Philippine regulators?

Lawmakers raised this question on Wednesday as they began investigating the bribery case allegedly involving Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada’s Universal Entertainment Corp. and former officials of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).

Rep. Amado Bagatsing, chair of the House committee on games and amusement, pointed out that Okada’s Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment Inc.  got its license to do business in Pagcor’s Entertainment City on Aug. 5, 2008—or two years before the alleged bribe money changed hands.

Then Pagcor consultant Rodolfo Soriano, tagged the bagman of then Pagcor chair Efraim Genuino, allegedly received the $5-million bribe, according to Reuters.

Reuters reported on Nov. 16 that the $5 million was part of the $40-million fund transfers by Universal’s Aruze USA in the first half of 2010 while Universal was seeking tax and ownership-related concessions in the final months of the Arroyo administration for its $2-billion casino on Manila Bay.

Reuters based its report on bank records, corporate filings, court documents and records prepared by Universal’s staff. US regulators are now investigating the payment to Soriano.

Genuino and Soriano were not present at the hearing, but Bagatsing was asked to summon them next time. But the committee chair said: “These people have reputations to protect also so give us reasons to really compel them to attend.”

Early into the two-hour hearing, Bagatsing asked: “Why still give $5 million when there’s already a license?” He noted that the alleged payoff took place shortly before new Pagcor officials were to take over.

“I don’t know if any businessman would do that, pay off an outgoing (official) and you already had a license for the last two years.”

Not improbable

But ACT Rep. Antonio Tinio said the bribery was “not improbable” despite the two-year gap.

“If it’s two years later, it could be because they didn’t want the (granting of license and payoff) to be linked,” Tinio told the Inquirer after the two-hour hearing.

What surprised many committee members was the revelation that Soriano received only “P1” in monthly compensation for his work as Pagcor consultant in 2006.

Soriano stayed only for two to three months, said Jay Daniel Santiago, Pagcor vice president for legal services.

“What were his duties, responsibilities? Perhaps he was just sweeping floors because he was getting only P1,” Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone asked current Pagcor officials in attendance.

Based on documents provided by Rep. Teodoro Casiño, Soriano made his money elsewhere.

Casiño was sick and failed to attend the hearing, but he furnished the committee copies of documents purportedly indicating how Soriano got the money from Universal.

Fortune Future

On behalf of Casiño, Tinio tackled the registry document of Fortune Future Ltd., saying it “establishes the location of Future Fortune, the vehicle through which the $40-million (bribe) was passed from Universal to the Soriano firms.”

Reuters earlier reported that $40 million was moved from the account of Aruze USA, Universal’s subsidiary, through Future Fortune when Universal was seeking ownership-related concessions during the Arroyo administration in 2010.

Tinio presented another document in connection with People’s Technology Ltd., which was wholly owned by Soriano and was “the end recipient of $5 million from the $40 million transferred out of the Aruze USA accounts.”

“This also shows that the sole shareholder of the company is one Rodolfo Soriano since Nov. 17, 2009, meaning this Rodolfo Soriano has complete control over the company and the ability to access the company’s bank accounts and received the $5 million,” he told his colleagues.

Receptacle

Another document pertained to Subic Leisure and Management Ltd., the “receptacle” of the remaining $35 million, Tinio said.

“According to the sources of Congressman Casiño, Mr. Soriano allegedly controls this firm and that can be the subject of further investigation,” he said.

Still, Bagatsing had his doubts and asked: “Where is this leading to?”

Cases in Tokyo

Masahiro Terada, Tiger Resort general manager, attended the hearing and told lawmakers about two ongoing cases filed in Tokyo by Universal against its three former officials in connection with separate disbursements of $5 million and $10 million to purported Soriano firms.

“I want to see the link between this (case) and Entertainment City because that’s the allegation, that the money was used for bribery. So far, it’s still within the confines of your corporation, unless Mr. Tinio can expand on this, not by innuendo but by facts,” Bagatsing said.

Tinio replied that the lawsuit “acknowledges that there is already a transfer (of money).

“They’re only alleging that it was not authorized by the top management, but nevertheless, there was a transfer. So as far as our laws, our jurisdiction is concerned, that’s all we need to know,” he told Bagatsing.

Guarantee fee

Terada said the $5-million debit, which was purportedly a “guarantee fee,” was yet to be recovered.

He said $10 million was returned to Universal in the form of a check on the same day it was transferred to Subic Leisure in 2010.

“Nothing was lost in the $10 million, nothing was gained by anybody from the $10 million,” Bagatsing said. “Where does this lead to the allegation of bribery? It’s all within the context of the corporation, which is outside the Philippines.”

Evardone reminded Bagatsing that Terada had expressed “surprise” that the company got the $10 million back.

“The question now is how to connect Mr. Soriano to Genuino, to Pagcor, which granted the license to Tiger. But these transactions happened way after the granting of the permit. That’s why, if there was a transaction between Mr. Soriano and their group, at this point, we cannot make a conclusion. We cannot surmise any connection to Pagcor, especially in the granting of the permit. So far,” Evardone said.

DOJ probe

Last week, Malacañang said Pagcor officials had referred the allegation of bribery to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for investigation.

President Aquino’s spokesperson, Edwin Lacierda, said the contract could be canceled if there was proof that the license was obtained through bribery.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago is seeking a probe of the $5-million bribe.

Besides Okada’s group, three others hold licenses to operate on a 120-hectare property reclaimed from Manila Bay—Belle Corp. of the SM Group, Bloombury Group of Enrique Razon and Travellers International Hotels.


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Tags: ACT Rep. Antonio Tinio , bribery , Efraim Genuino , House of Representatives , Kazuo Okada , Pagcor , Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. , Universal Entertainment Corp.


  • blainz

    Amado Bagatsing doesn’t seem to be interested in finding out the truth about the $5 million bribe. He’s already lawyering for the defense of Genuino and Soriano.
     
    For a man who kept injecting religion into the RH debates in the House, what is he doing chairing the House Committee on Games and Amusement? Now he can’t wait to excuse Genuino and Soriano of any misdeeds. Trapo to the max.

    • doncleo

       LATAK pa ni Marcos mga BAGATSING..Tunay na trapo..

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/36O4ZGE5JY24XE4XQOXBM6O4WE Klepto

    It’s called late payment of bribe. Philippine government is infested with parasites and thieves.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CRBW2RJR4WNWVIDZVSCLFQK4KQ Spike

    galit lang ang mga TONGGRESSMAN at hinde sila ang nakakuha ng 5milliom $

    Magnanakaw galit sa kapwa magnanakaw

  • Albert Einstien

    KUNIN  nyo lang yung report ni freeh submitted sa gaming committee ..nasa INTERNET ano ba kayo..KOMPLETO YUN REPORTsimula nag invest dito sa plpinas……..nandon pati E-MAILS ng mga officers ng casino….INVOLVED at pwede ng KASUHAN ng INDIRECT BRIBERY yung mga OFFICERS ng CURRENT  PAGCOR na TUMANGGAP at NAKINABANG…di-umano ng $5,OOO each for GAMING ( pansugal ) at SHOPPING…..kasabay din yun boung pamilya ni NAGUIAT asawa, anak at yaya…incognitodi-umao  inilagay nila na PANGALAN nya….pero NABUKING ng INVESTIGATION  ni FREEH…

  • $23228448

     the contract could be canceled if there was proof that the license was obtained through bribery. Paying a bribe is everyday business here and nothing proceeds until it is paid….what by threatening to cancel the contract your asking for more money.,…only a fool would do business in the philippines…

  • Jack Phalaphitac

    Absurd. Bagatsing was amazed why a businessman would bribe somebody two years after he got a license to operate his business. And it’s only 5 million dollars. We’re not amazed that he was surprised but his posturings as a clean and straight politician stinks. It’s for the finishing touches, stupid. Those morons in Pagcor maybe stupid like you but they won’t give everything lock, stock, and barrel in one sitting. Some things were left hanging in the air, so ‘time to iron these out before we leave’. Who knows, maybe it’s a little concession like, we brew our own coffee, we buy our own dish washing liquid, whatever. What we all know is that this is another case of corruption and what’s astonishing here was Bagatsing was surprised. Silly.    

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZKCGLVFAGUVX7NIUY4E5PIPRKQ Gene

       Right Jack, I was also amazed and surprised by Bagatsing’s pronouncements.  Is he really that naive or just plain stupid?

      • Jack Phalaphitac

        He is bought. Ooops, I mean both. Laughable too.

  • jeffrey_01

    Its more fun in the country thieves. Let the FBI do the investigation. Our congressmen senators and NBI are incompetent donkeys.

  • Albert Einstien

    SENATOR TED casino…( practice lang  i will vote for you.. ..lol) …….KALKALIN nyo po yun DISCRETIONARY, INTELLIGENCE,NON-taxable receipts ng PAGCOR OFFICERS simula ng 2010,2011 at 2012 …ng 2010 sabi ng coa tinanggap ni naguiat ay 69million for  6months PA LANG…tapos ng NAGLABAS NG COA 2011 report wala na yun PANGALAN nya…sabay sabi ng COA INALIS NILA yun mga INTELLIGENCE, DISCRETIONARY, ALLOWANCES, NON TAXABLE RECEIPTS..ETC…IMBESTGAHAN mo po ..NO SACRED COWS… baka me nakapayroll din sa senate at congress…kaya SOBRANG TAHMIK sila pag PAGCOR ang NA-IINVOLVED..pinawalan sala agad ng palace at mga congressmen dati sa media yan si NAGUIAT pagcor officers..hindi nila ALAM me mga e-mails NA nakuha si FREEH..actually pwede na sila damputin for INDIRECT BRIBERYkasi inamin nila hini daw btribe yun pero INDUSTRY PRACTICE…nakalimutan nilayun CRIMINAL CASE na indirect brIbery by reason of office lang tumanggap ng gift ang element…. kun makuha nyo REPORT ni FREEH…nasa internet ( REPORT BY FREEH, SPORKIN & SULLIVAN, LLP TO THE GAMING COMPLIANCE COMMITTEE-ang title ) yun isinubmit sa gaming compliance committee …authentication lang kelangan …lol

    part of the alleged report submitted to gaming committee:

    ” September 23, 2010: In an e-mail to Ms. Lai, with a copy to Mr. Okada, Mr. Shoji requests that a credit of US 5,000 be extended to each person now staying at the Villa for shopping and gaming, up to a total of US 50,000. According to Mr. Shoji’s email, the funds are to be advanced by Wynn Macau and charged to the Universal City Ledger account.”

    IMBISTIGAHAN nyo kun sino yung mga kasama nila naguiat at pagcor officers…pati mga asawa,anak at yaya…GRABE……..pati yun NI REPORT ni TABERNA( abs cbn) nong ISANG ARAW me VIDEO….at 2 years na daw ginagamit ni naguiat an mga kotse at empleayo ng PAGCOR pam pamilya panghatid sa mga anak sa school at kung saan pa…IMBISTIGAHAN nyo kung totoo report ni taberna…

    • jeffrey_01

      Investigate the before 2010.

  • Sam

    I’m not interested in the Senate inquiry. The FBI is sure to do a far more competent and unbiased investigation and it is the only one likely to be truly credible.

  • w4d

    Follow the money trail…$5M did not just disappear into thin air. Bagatsing seems very protective, parang halatado yatang may alam…LOL…

  • dorothyanne88

    bravo. . your countrymen are proud of you. . bring the thieves to the fold of the law and you’ll be revered like pnoy

  • Kamoteng_Dilaw

    Well, that entertainment city should be called: CANTO TINIO CASINO or “LUCKY T” TINIO CASINO..

  • anton kinuton

    May we know who is Efraim Genuino before he became Pagcor chairman during GMA’s time and after Pagcor. Is he or his family is as rich as he/they today? What is his occupation or business before Pagcor?  I have been reading newspapers and watching TV for a long time and I never, never encountered the name Efraim Genuino even once before he came to Pagcor. As I understand, his family now owns a school, a swimming comlex, his sons into big time politics and he seems untouchable.



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