Casiño urges PAGCOR to suspend ‘sin city’ project

PARTY list Rep. Teddy Casiño today called for the immediate suspension of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation’s (PAGCOR) Entertainment City project as new evidence emerged pointing to more anomalies involving PAGCOR officials and its main investor Japanese gambling magnate Kazuo Okada.

“It is high time that Congress immediately set a hearing for House Resolution 2809 calling for an investigation and, in the meantime, a suspension of the project, considering that a lot more anomalies have been unearthed regarding this “Sin City”,” said the lawmaker.

“When the House hears HR 2809, we will have to include new pieces of evidence unearthed by Reuters news agency that can help complete the picture of corruption in PAGCOR and its proposed Sin City,” Casiño added.

The solon made the call as U.S. gaming regulators are investigating millions of dollars paid by affiliates Okada’s Universal Entertainment Corp to a former consultant for the Philippine gaming authority around the time the company was lobbying to win concessions for a $2 billion Manila casino.

A Universal subsidiary made a $5 million payment in May 2010 to Rodolfo Soriano, a close associate former PAGCOR chair Efraim Genuino, according to a Reuters examination of bank records, corporate filings, court documents and records prepared by Universal staff. The payment was made via a shell company in Hong Kong and was part of $40 million in transfers made by Universal’s U.S. affiliate Aruze USA that are now a focus for investigators.

The document trail connecting Soriano to the $5 million payment has not been previously reported.
“The anomalies may have well extended to the new PAGCOR management under Cristino Naguiat considering that they accepted illegal favors from Okada during their trip to Macau last year,” he said.

“We must use extreme diligence here because we are dealing with billions of public funds and PAGCOR’s dealings regarding the Entertainment City are very shady to say the least,” ended Casiño.

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