Law firm hits cases over Entertainment City project

A LAW firm scored the resolution of a panel formed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) which found some of its lawyers liable for aiding a Japanese gaming firm in disregarding restrictions to foreign ownership of lands and businesses.

In a statement late Monday evening, the SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan law office said the lawyers followed the Constitution and relevant statutes when it incorporated Eagle I and II and Tiger Resort under Philippine laws in 2008.

The three companies were used by Japanese businessman Kazuo Okada to facilitate investments in the multi-billion peso Entertainment City project of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) in Parañaque City.

"SSHG and its lawyers have, at all times, acted in full compliance with all laws applicable to the transactions in which they were involved. Those transactions were legitimate and lawful and we are confident that a proper investigation will clear our lawyers of any wrongdoing," said SSHG managing partner Rafael Morales.

Okada and 25 others have been recommended to undergo preliminary investigation by the DOJ for violating the Philippine Anti-Dummy Law, Public Land Act and Foreign Investments Act.

The fact-finding panel also investigated the alleged $40-million bribe by Okada's Universal Entertainment Corp. to former Pagcor consultant Rodolfo Soriano in 2010 to ensure approval of the company’s application to operate the casino.

Potential witnesses to the payoff, however, refused to testify. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)
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