BUSINESS

Universal admits first report was flawed, still points to former official’s wrongdoing

TAGs: Casino News, gambling, Kazuo Okada, PAGCOR, Philippines, Universal Entertainment

kazuo-okada-wynn-pagcorThere appears to be discord in the ranks of Universal Entertainment, enough to have caused the current mess the company finds itself in with regards to its bribery case in the Philippines. At least that’s the belief unless proven otherwise. Oh, the Universal merry-go-round continues.

Reporting from its own commission audit, Universal revealed that Hajime Tokuda, a former president to the company, altered the minutes of a company meeting to include the payment of $25 million as part of its efforts in obtaining a casino license in the Philippines. According to the audit, Tokuda was the president of Universal Entertainment in 2009 when the payment was made after he adjusted the meeting of company executives to add the approval for the payment.

However, the commission, which was made up former high-ranking police official and two Japanese lawyers, did not find enough compelling evidence to admit that the company’s activities leading up to securing one of the four licenses in Pagcor’s Entertainment City involved any illicit and illegal bribery.

Universal’s attempt to get to the bottom of this mess took a turn after the company hired an outsider task force to investigate the bribery allegations that allegedly took place in the Philippines involving a former official from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation. To its credit, the results of the commission’s report took the company that hired it to task, in large part for having lax governance that resulted in failing to oversee its operations in a  manner expected of it.

That, or it could have been a rushed report that has no substance, a concern that Universal surprisingly admitted to shortly after releasing the commission’s report. The company said that the material used in crafting the said report was “incomplete”, prompting it to announce that it was planning to form a second task force to conduct another investigation on the matter.

Okada, together with 25 other individuals recently found themselves in hot water after the Philippines’ Department of Justice recommended the filing of charges for violating the Anti-Dummy Law and the Foreign Investments Act of 1991. On the other hand, the joint report by the DOJ and the National Bureau of Investigation did not recommend the filing of bribery charges against Okada and Universal on the grounds that it did not find enough sufficient evidence on the purpose of the alleged $40 million payment to former Pagcor consultant Rodolfo Soriano Jr., “mainly due to the reluctance of potential witnesses to testify”.

If there’s some foundation to the first report commissioned by Universal that pointed to Tokuda altering the minutes of a company to add the approval of the $25 million payment as part of Universal’s attempt to secure a license to the Philippines, then the company may have found its scourge. We doubt it, though, because Universal’s admission that the report lacked enough information and the subsequent decision to launch a new investigation has effectively turned its first report irrelevant. At least until that second report comes out and corroborates what’s already been divulged to the public.

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