The Philippine government is considering applying via the courts to seize casino assets held by Chinese businessman Jack Lam Yin Lok in that country. It is in order to cover what was termed “unremitted revenue” said to be owed to the government.
“If Lam is unable to pay off, the government will initiate sequestration proceedings,” the country’s Justice Secretary, Vitaliano Aguirre, was quoted by the Business Mirror newspaper as saying during a Philippine Senate committee hearing on Thursday.
At the same hearing, Andrea Domingo, head of the country’s casino regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), told senators that Mr Lam’s casino operations owed Pagcor at least PHP13.9 billion (US$278.4 million) in respect of what the news outlet said were “total liabilities”.
The newspaper further reported – citing Ms Domingo as the source – that Mr Lam’s casino operation at Fontana Casino at the Fontana Hot Spring Leisure Parks at Clark was “only paying Pagcor shares of 10 percent of revenue from high rollers and 1 percent from junket bettors”, amounts said to compare unfavourably with fees paid by other operators.
“If there is no settlement, his [Mr Lam’s] assets will be sold at public auction,” Mr Aguirre was quoted as saying at the hearing.
Ms Domingo is said to have told the Senate committee that Pagcor was in talks with auditors with a view to examining the accounts of Mr Lam’s Philippine casino business “in order to avoid leakage”.
The website of Mr Lam’s Jimei Group lists the Fontana Casino at Clark, and Fort Ilocandia Hotel and Casino in Laoag City, as the firm’s Philippine operations.
Pagcor has already ordered the closure of Mr Lam’s Philippine operations. Ms Domingo reportedly said on Thursday that Pagcor had also served a revocation notice regarding a Philippine gaming licence held by Mr Lam due to what were termed other “infractions”.
The Philippine Star newspaper reported the Pagcor boss as saying it had been “established” that Mr Lam was involved in what Ms Domingo said were “illegal” gambling operations, as well as being suspected of “harbouring illegal aliens” as workers in his casino operations.
The news outlet further stated Ms Domingo had acknowledged meeting Mr Lam three times in order – in the words of the newspaper – to negotiate “proper fees to the government in spite of the special rates guaranteed to his firm under the contract he signed during the term of the late president Corazon Aquino”.
But the Pagcor boss denied being offered a bribe in connection with the negotiations, as had been previously alleged by the Justice Secretary.
The Senate committee has threatened to cancel the passport of Wally Sombero – a retired police superintendent said to have acted as Mr Lam’s go-between – for failure to attend a Senate inquiry into alleged corruption. Both news outlets said Mr Sombero is thought to have travelled to Canada.
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