The Straits Times
Published on Nov 30, 2012

Philippines fixer paid S$36m by Okada's Universal Entertainment


TOKYO/SAN FRANCISCO (REUTERS) - Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada's Universal Entertainment funnelled at least US$30 million (S$ 36 million) to an ex-consultant for the Philippines gaming authority who is now at the center of a bribery investigation, according to sources and company records.

The sum is six times the amount initially confirmed by Reuters and could, if found to be bribery, result in Mr Okada being stripped of his firm's casino license in the Philippines and also jeopardise his gaming license in Las Vegas.

A Hong Kong firm established by Mr Okada's Universal sent the money to Manila-based consultant Rodolfo Soriano in a series of payments in the first half of 2010, according to a review of company records and interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees and people familiar with the investigation.

Soriano, who has close ties to key members of the administration of former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, received the payments as Universal was lobbying for tax and other government concessions to boost the profitability of a US$2 billion casino it was developing on Manila Bay.