Universal Entertainment CEO Kazuo Okada has had his fare share of problems in the Philippines but just when things appear to be caving in on the Japanese gambling tycoon, Okada found somebody willing to vouch for his company’s business dealings in the country.
The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), specifically deputy director-general Tereso O. Panga vouched for Okada’s group and dispelled the bribery and corruption allegations being thrown the latter’s way. In a letter to Tiger Resorts, Leisure, and Entertainment Corp president Masahiro Terada, Panga went into detail regarding the process Eagle 1 Landholdings Inc, a Philippine subsidiary of Tiger Resorts, went through for the processing of its application as developer and operator of ecozones.
In his letter to Terada, Panga proclaimed that Eagle 1 did not participate in any unscrupulous business dealings in its attempt to secure a presidential declaration of the Okada project being labeled as a tourism ecozone. “[Eagle 1] complied with the necessary documents without any special favors or accommodations extended and went through the usual process including the filing of an anti-graft certificate, which is the basic requirement applied to all developers and locator enterprises of PEZA special economic zones,” Panga wrote in his letter to Terada.
The letter went on to dispel any allegations of bribery partaken by Okada’s group to gain favorable treatment from the Philippine government, including pointing out that the agency’s board granted preliminary approval for Eagle 1 to develop the 30.51 hectares of its project site into a tourism ecozone a full year before the alleged bribery allegations took place.
In a statement shortly after receiving PEZA’s letter of confidence, Universal reiterated the that “the PEZA document proved that the allegations about illegal expenditure are totally unfounded”.
Despite this seemingly glowing public vote of confidence from PEZA, the Philippines, Department of Justice is still investigating these bribery allegations that the Okada group paid $40 million to former Pagcor officials and has even sent some of its agents to Japan to interview employees of Universal Entertainment.