Okada mess probe extended-A A +A
Sunday, January 13, 2013
THE Department of Justice (DOJ) fact-finding panel investigating the alleged $5-million bribe received by a former consultant of Pagcor from a firm of Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada has been given another month to conclude its probe.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she has decided to grant the request of the three member fact-finding panel for extension of time to submit their report on the bribery complaint filed by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) chairman and chief executive officer Cristino Naguiat Jr.
In the complaint, Naguiat asked the DOJ to investigate the alleged bribe given by Universal Entertainment Corp., the flagship company of Okada, to Rodolfo Soriano, also an associate of former Pagcor chair Efraim Genuino.
“The members of the panel sought for an extension of the timetable to complete their work. I am granting it. They need more time,” said de Lima in a text message.
The panel originally had 30 days or until December 22 to submit its report on whether or not there is the basis of the complaint.
Wire reports said agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are in the country to conduct their own probe. They are coordinating with the National Bureau of Investigation, an attached agency of the DOJ and which is part of the investigating panel formed last November to look into the alleged payoff.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Malacanang is not aware of any information that the FBI has been involved in the investigation.
“I have no information whether there are FBI agents who have arrived to investigate. Wala po kaming information on that,” she said.
In Department Order 995, issued last November, de Lima designated Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Rosalina P. Aquino, NBI lawyer Marlon Tauli, and NBI-Internal Audit Unit executive officer Catherine Camposano as members of the special panel that will investigate the bribery complaint, upon the orders of President Aquino.
The panel was ordered to determine possible graft and corrupt acts or other irregularities that may have attended the transaction between Pagcor and Universal Entertainment and its affiliates and whether the supposed deal was related to Universal’s $2-billion world-class resort-casino complex in Entertainment City in Paranaque.
The panel is also directed to come up with its evaluation and recommendation on any effect its findings may have on the validity of any existing contract between the Philippine government and other entities involved.
Naguiat, in his complaint, claimed that Soriano had supposedly received various concessions from Universal, via a shell company in Hong Kong called Aruze USA, purportedly in exchange for the approval of the $2-billion contract for the gaming tycoon to operate the world-class Entertainment City casino complex in Manila Bay.
The Pagcor chief said the supposed $5 million payment to Soriano is also being investigated by the United States authorities as part of a series of payments totaling to $40 million made by Aruze USA. However, the nature of the said payments was not clear from the reports.
“In this regard, we would like to seek your assistance and to request that your department take the lead in pursuing an investigation related to these news reports as there are insinuations that the foregoing payments are somehow related to the issuance by the former management of Pagcor of a casino license in favor of Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment, an affiliate of Aruze USA,” he said in his letter request to the DOJ. (JCV/Jill Beltran/Sunnex)