Universal Entertainment spent the latter part of 2012 on the defensive after allegations that the casino operator made illegal payments to a Pagcor associate in the Philippines regarding the operator’s casino project in the country.
Well, it didn’t take long for Universal to open the new year with bats swinging, announcing that it would set up a panel of independent experts made up of lawyers and the like to investigate media reports regarding the issue. In a statement issued by Universal majority owner Kazuo Okada, the panel would be tasked to investigate the issues brought to the public light by a number of media outlets, including Reuters and the Asahi newspaper in Japan. Universal still believes that any and all of their moves and transactions were done in a lawful manner and with the investigation, the Japanese casino company is hoping that an examination by a third-party panel, one whose judgments aren’t clouded by pre-conceived biases, will be able to put all of the company’s shareholders at ease. If only it were that easy…
If there’s anything to take from this, it’s that Universal is determined to clear its name in light of the scandalous allegations made by Reuters, Asahi, and any of the other stories a number of media outlets released late last year. Universal has already put Reuters on notice when it filed a libel suit against the news agency in Tokyo in early December for the latter’s report, which broke the news of Universal’s alleged improprieties in trying to get favors from the Philippine government to secure one of the four licenses being handed out as part of Pagcor’s Entertainment City project. Reuters stands by its report despite the libel suit. Earlier this week, Universal also announced that it was thinking of taking appropriate legal action against the Asahi newspaper.
As soon as the calendar flipped to 2013, you knew that this issue, which dominated the headlines in the last month of the year, was going to be reopened with a bang. And to no one’s surprise, Universal is the one that’s throwing the first salvo.
We probably have a year’s worth of talking about this issue so best be ready to brace yourselves. It’s going to get real interesting sooner than later.