BUSINESS

PhilWeb profits up; former Pagcor execs face graft charges; manhunt for guard

TAGs: PAGCOR, Philippines, PhilWeb

philweb-pagcorPhilippine gambling operator PhilWeb Corp has released unaudited financial results for the first six months of 2012 that show a 24% rise in revenues to P692m (US$16.5m) and a 30% rise in net income to P480m ($11.5m). Following up on its positive Q1, PhilWeb enjoyed international success via its scratch card operations in Cambodia and East Timor, as well as the forthcoming opening of its second Sweeps Café iGaming outlet in Guam. PhilWeb president Dennis Valdes also touted the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding granting PhilWeb a 75-year concession to build a casino on two hectares of land in the Thakhek Specific Economic Zone spanning the border of Laos and Thailand. Domestically, PhilWeb’s core business supplying services to state-run operator/regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) had another strong quarter. As the second half of PhilWeb’s year is traditionally stronger than the first, Valdes predicted the company “will set new financial records” by year’s end.

On Tuesday, former Pagcor chairman Efraim Genuino and two other ex-Pagcor execs – former president Rafael Francisco and senior VP Rene Figueroa – were charged with plunder and graft in connection with excessive prices paid to outfit Casino Filipino branches with coffee kiosks. Also charged is Promolabels owner Carlota Cristi Manalo-Tan, to whom the coffee contract was awarded in 2001 without a public bidding process, as required by law. Though the contract stated that the coffee sold in the casinos would be priced the same as it was at Promolabels-run Figaro kiosks in shopping malls, auditors have determined that the casino prices ran as much as 74% higher. Between 2005 and 2008, it’s estimated that Pagcor was overcharged P78m ($1.87m). Manalo-Tan has since issued a statement saying her company has been “maligned and ridiculed in public” but “firmly believes that in the end, the current judicial system will allow us to prove our innocence.”

On a smaller financial scale but larger in dramatic terms, a former Casino Filipino security guard is the subject of a nationwide manhunt after absconding with P2.8m ($67k) from the casino vault. Pascual Urian Jr. was last seen walking out of the Mandaue City casino in the wee hours of the morning holding a plastic bag. According to the Cebu Daily News, a co-worker asked Urian where he was going, prompting Urian to dash out into the street, where he tossed some of the stolen cash into the air to create a distraction while he jumped into a cab. Police later recovered P80k from bystanders who stopped to scoop up the cash. Pagcor has offered a reward for Urian’s capture.

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