Philippines denies reports that its bribery probe of Universal Entertainment is over

TAGs: Kazuo Okada, Philippines, Resorts World Manila, travellers international, Universal Entertainment

universal-philippine-probe-not-overPhilippine officials have denied reports that their investigation into Universal Entertainment’s activities in the country has been closed.

Last Thursday, the Japan-based Universal issued a statement saying that dual investigations in the Philippines and Japan had “concluded for all practical purposes.” The investigations were launched over suspicions that Universal’s Philippine subsidiary had funneled $40m in questionable payments to former top execs at Philippine gaming regulator PAGCOR. The payments were allegedly made to obtain concessions related to the development of an integrated resort in Manila’s Entertainment City casino zone.

On Monday, the Philippine Department of Justice issued a clarification saying no such conclusion had been reached. GMA News quoted Justice Secretary Leila de Lima saying Prosecutor General Claro Areliano had yet to receive the resolution of the panel of prosecutors investigating the brouhaha. Areliano also denied the claim, saying that the only instruction he’d issued was to tell the panel to speed up the resolution of the case.

Meanwhile, one of the other operators developing an Entertainment City resort reported a serious profit surge in 2014. Travellers international Hotel Group, the joint venture of Genting Hong Kong and Alliance Global Group, reported 2014 revenue of PHP 28.4b (US $634m), down 5% from 2013. But lower license fees and an increased focus on cost control pushed Travellers’ profits up 98.8% to PHP 5.46b ($122m).

Travellers operates the Resorts World Manila (RWM) casino and expects to open the Bayshore City Resorts World integrated resort in Entertainment City in late-2018. Travellers said it spent PHP 5.9b last year developing RWM’s Phases 2 and 3. The property’s Marriott Grand Ballroom will open this July while the Marriot West Wing, which will add 227 hotel rooms, will open by the end of the year. The Phase 3 complex “is slated for turnover by the end of 2017 as planned.”


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