Casino entrepreneur Jack Lam Yin Lok will not be returning to the Philippines in connection with allegations over his now-suspended gaming operations in that country, a local lawyer for him said on Thursday.
“It is the consensus of Mr Lam’s lawyers, both abroad and here, for him to decline any invitation to return,” attorney Raymond Fortun told a committee hearing held that day at the Philippine Senate (pictured), reported the GMA Network news outlet.
Mr Lam’s side is pitched against, respectively, the country’s president, Rodrigo Duterte, who has called for his arrest for alleged bribery and economic sabotage; the country’s Bureau of Immigration, which has alleged he illegally employed foreign nationals and then tried to bribe immigration officials to close an inquiry into the matter; and the country’s casino regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), which has ordered the closure of his Philippine operations, claiming he was not paying the necessary dues.
The website of Mr Lam’s Jimei Group lists the Fontana Casino at the Fontana Hot Spring Leisure Parks at Clark Freeport Zone on the main island of Luzon, and Fort Ilocandia Hotel and Casino in Laoag City in northern of Luzon, as its Philippine operations.
Mr Lam, a Chinese national, left the Philippines on November 29 – days before President Duterte ordered his arrest – aboard a flight to Hong Kong, according to an immigration department spokeswoman cited by GMA on Thursday.
GGRAsia has previously made several attempts to contact Jimei Group, seeking comment on the allegations made against Mr Lam in that country, but did not receive responses.
Macau’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau – also known by its Portuguese acronym DICJ – last month confirmed to GGRAsia that it had held a meeting with Mr Lam on January 5, to get clarification from him regarding the situation of his business interests in the Philippines. The gaming bureau didn’t specify to us what information it had sought from him. Mr Lam is an investor in Macau casino junket operations.
The Philippine Senate is conducting an investigation into an alleged PHP50-million (US$1-million) bribe said to have been offered by a go-between for Mr Lam, to former Bureau of Immigration deputy commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles. It was said to be in exchange for the release of Chinese workers arrested at Clark on alleged visa irregularities.
GMA separately reported that at Thursday’s senate hearing, Pagcor president Alfredo Lim denied any knowledge of the alleged bribery attempt.
Mr Robles and Mr Argosino had earlier told the committee that they had brought money they had received from Mr Lam’s alleged middleman, former Philippine police officer Wally Sombero, to a birthday party thrown by Mr Lim. Mr Lim said that was merely a coincidence.
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”Our own consensus is that any newcomers to this [junket] sector should be corporatised, and should be financially sound and able to commit a higher guarantee deposit”
Kwok Chi Chung
President of junket trade body, the Macau Association of Gaming and Entertainment Promoters