‘Middleman’ in bribe scandal files countersuit vs 2 BI execs
Alleged gambling “middleman” Wenceslao Sombero Jr. filed a graft complaint against the two Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials who allegedly demanded grease money from Macau-based tycoon Jack Lam for the release of hundreds of Chinese nationals arrested earlier this month.
It was a countermove on the part of Sombero, a retired police senior superintendent, against BI Associate Commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles who earlier sued him also for corruption.
“My evidence is airtight. Everything is detailed,” said Sombero, referring to the 21-page complaint he filed in the Office of the Ombudsman.
Speaking to reporters, Sombero said he tried to call Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II about his move but the Cabinet official just replied in a text message, saying: “Wally, do what is right.”
This, he said, finally convinced him to press charges against the BI officials, whom Aguirre had ordered sacked over the P50-million bribery scandal.
Both Argosino and Robles had owned up to taking the payoff, holding a press conference to tell their version of the story.
But they claimed it was in line with their investigation into the supposed activities of a syndicate within the bureau, a probe they initiated without the knowledge of BI Commissioner Jaime Morente.
The payoff to Argosino and Robles, with Sombero serving as middleman, was supposed to secure the release of 600 of the 1,315 Chinese nationals arrested for illegally running Lam’s online gaming facility at Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Clark, Pampanga.
The Sombero camp declined reporters’ requests for a copy of his complaint. His lawyer, Kat Contacto explained: “In a nutshell, it describes the P50-million transaction which was caught on CCTV… But apart from that there were other events that transpired that are part of the complaint. What these are, I cannot disclose.”
Contacto also served as legal counsel of President Duterte when his candidacy in the May polls was challenged in the Commission on Elections.
Sombero admitted that he got P2 million out of the payoff purse but said it was to be used for legal services needed by the arrested Chinese nationals.
“Lam was committed to secure the release of the people, so he asked me to organize a legal team,” he added.
The complaint describes Sombero is president of Asian Gaming Service Provider Association Inc., which represents business process outsourcing services that cater to foreign gaming companies licensed by the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority and other regulators.
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