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The Philippines – Universal cleared of making illegal payments

By - 9 January 2015

Universal Entertainment Corp has been cleared of making any alleged illegal payments to Philippines regulator PAGCOR to smooth the development of its US$2bn Manila Bay Resorts.

Universal, led by Kazuo Okada, blamed news service Reuters for the investigation for what it termed ‘partial and inaccurate reports’ and said it would be taking legal action although it has dropped charges against rival operator Wynn Resorts.

The company stated: “Universal hereby announces that the Prosecutor of the Philippines has proposed to the Secretary of Justice to terminate the groundless suspicion that our group may have offered bribes to officials of PAGCOR since the Fact Finding Panel consisting of officials of the National Bureau of Investigation and the National Prosecution Service has stated in its final report that there is insufficient evidence to support the suspicion after a yearlong investigation.”

Universal has filed pending action against a Japanese subsidiary of Reuters with the Tokyo District Court.

The operator added: “It was decided on December 16, 2014 not to institute prosecution against Mr. Kazuo Okada, Chairman of the Board of the Company, against whom a criminal complaint and charge had been filed by someone with the Tokyo District Prosecutors Office for bribery to foreign officials. It was unfortunately decided on December 16 not to institute prosecution against Wynn Resorts, for circulation of rumours, Steve Wynn, for circulation of rumours, defamation and harm to public trust, a former official of our group for fraud and professional embezzlement and Mr Shunsuke Yamaoka for defamation and harm to public trust against whom the company had filed criminal complaints or charges with the Tokyo District Prosecutors Office. However, while the civil case the company had filed against a former employee of our group is pending at Tokyo District Court the company will continue investigation, such as collating additional evidence into the outflow of US$30m caused by a former employee of our group.”

The final point refers to a report in July 2013 when Universal said a former director changed minutes of a meeting to make it look like executives had approved a US$30m payment.

Mr. Okada, who was once Wynn Resorts’ biggest single shareholder, was forcibly stripped of his 20 per cent of the company by Mr. Wynn amid claims of Mr. Okada making illegal payments and offering gifts to regulators this breaching US anti-corruption laws.

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