Is Malacañang covering up for Naguiat? – solon

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PARTY LIST Rep. Teddy Casiño finds unbelievable Malacañang’s statement that it is clueless on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) probe into the alleged bribery of Japan’s Universal Entertainment Corp. to former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) consultant Rodolfo Soriano and other gaming officials.

“Clueless or they’d rather not talk because the person in the hot seat is President Aquino’s good buddy who, when he was appointed to PAGCOR, cleared the deals in question and even received favors from the company that was supposed to have bribed his predecessor?” said the lawmaker, who has spearheaded the bribery investigation in Congress.

The Reuters news agency reported over the weekend that agents from the Las Vegas office of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation have been in Manila over the past week working with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the local agency tasked with looking into Universal’s big boss Kazuo Okada’s illegal payments to Soriano.

“More likely than not the Palace is just distancing itself from the investigation, knowing that current PAGCOR chair Cristino Naguiat, a presidential appointee, approved the dealings of former PAGCOR chair Efraim Genuino and Soriano,” said Casiño.

“Notwithstanding that Pres. Aquino ordered an investigation in November to see if the payments were made in relation to the $2 billion casino resort being developed by Universal on Manila Bay, he already exonerated Naguiat from any wrong doing and said that accepting favors from Okada was part of ‘industry practice’,” Casiño said.

“As of now we have three investigations on the matter –  two in the House of Representatives and one at the Department of Justice (DOJ) – yet nothing seems to be coming out of these probes. As it is even with numerous pieces of evidence of irregularities on the Entertainment City project, President Benigno Aquino III has not ordered the suspension of its provisional license and even condoned Naguiat’s acceptance of free hotel accommodations and gifts from Okada’s company,” Casiño added.

In a lawsuit filed in a US court last February, US-based Wynn Resorts alleged that estranged business partner Kazuo Okada violated the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by lavishing more than $110,000 on Naguiat and other Philippine officials to ensure the Japanese’s plans for a Manila casino went ahead.

The suit alleged that Okada billeted Naguiat, his wife, three children, a nanny and other PAGCOR officials in Wynn Macau hotel rooms during a five day stay in 2010. The family allegedly stayed at the resort’s most expensive room at $6,000 a night.

It also narrated that Naguiat requested and received a Chanel designer bag worth more than $1,850 for his wife. Okada supposedly ordered that each of the guests be given a $5,000 advance for shopping during their stay in Macau.

“What needs to be done now is for the President to immediately suspend the Entertainment City project and relieve Naguiat for not doing enough to stop the anomalous project,” said Casiño.

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