Philippines to charge casino tycoon

AFP-JIJI

Philippine investigators recommended Monday that charges be filed against Japanese gambling tycoon Kazuo Okada for allegedly creating dummy firms to buy land for a Manila casino project, the Justice Department said.

Investigators said similar charges should be filed against 25 other individuals who helped the Japanese billionaire set up at least three firms to establish the billion-dollar casino in Manila’s bayside Entertainment City.

There was clear evidence that the firms established by Okada “were a front for Universal Entertainment, meant to circumvent or evade laws of nationalization of certain rights, franchises and privileges,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said.

Okada controls Universal Entertainment Corp., while under the Philippine Constitution, only citizens or companies that are 60-percent-owned by Filipinos can own land.

“They are liable for violating the Anti-Dummy Law,” de Lima said. She said the Justice Department’s National Bureau of Investigation was reproducing “voluminous documentary evidence” to be turned over to state prosecutors who will then determine whether the case should proceed in court.

Okada holds one of four licenses handed out by gaming regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) to build casinos each worth at least $1 billion in Entertainment City.