THE Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials accused of extorting P50 million from gaming tycoon Jack Lam have turned over P30 million to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday.

In a press conference, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the money will be kept by the DOJ.

"We have to find the nearest bank. Dun siguro namin ilalagay. This is according to them, to show you that the money is intact and they have not taken a single bill dito,"Aguirre said.

Deputy Immigration Commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles allegedly extorted from Lam in exchange for the release of 600 out of the 1,316 undocumented Chinese nationals arrested in his online gaming operation in Pampanga,

Only P30 million was returned as according to the two BI officials, the P18 million was demanded by BI Intelligence Chief Police Director Charles Calima Jr., upon knowing that they extorted money from Lam. The other P2 million allegedly went to retired general Wally Sombero.

According to the Justice chief, the safekeeping of the money will not affect the ongoing investigation being made by the BI, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Paranaque Prosecutor's Office against the two officials.

In a press conference earlier in the day, Argosino and Robles denied that they extorted P50 million from Lam in exchange for the freedom of 600 Chinese workers.

The two accused said they took the money from Lam's emissary, Sombero, as evidence of corruption, as part of an investigation they are conducting against pay-offs in the bureau.

They filed before the Paranaque Prosecutor's Office a complaint against Lam, Sombero, Calima, and certain Norman Ng and Alexander Yu for bribery and violation of the Anti-Wiretapping Act.

In an interview earlier in the day, Aguirre said he recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte the relief of Argosino and Robles. He said he will also recommend Calima to be relieved once the investigation reveals that he is also involved in the anomalies in the BI.

According to Aguirre, he was the one who endorsed the appointment of Argosino to the President.

He added that Argosino and Robles were his friends from the campaign and his fraternity brothers in Lex Talionis Fraternitas, also the fraternity of President Duterte.

"I am sure I'll be fair. There will be no favor to be extended to anybody whether they are my brods or not," Aguirre said.

Aguirre earlier said that Lam, through Sombrero, tried to bribe him and Philippine and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) chief Andrea Domingo in exchange for the release of the Chinese nationals arrested in Fontana Leisure Park and Casino last November 24.

The claims of Aguirre prompted Duterte to order the PNP to arrest Lam for bribery and economic sabotage.

Lam, with a Chinese name Lam Yin Lok, however, has not yet returned to the country after he departed on November 29 on board a Cathay Pacific flight to Hongkong. (Sunnex)