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The Philippines – Universal fights back over DOJ charge claims

By - 17 July 2013

Despite a Department of Justice (DOJ) and National Bureau of Investigation recommendation that criminal charges be filed against it, Universal Entertainment, owned by Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okado, has said it will still pursue its US$2bn investment in Philippine Amusement Gaming Corp.’s (Pagcor) Entertainment City.

The statement came after a fact-finding panel of the DOJ suggested that charges should be filed against 26 individuals at the company including Mr. Okada regarding ‘anomalous activities’ involving the Manila project.

Nobuyuki Horiuchi, Assistant General Manager of PR, said: “Our vision has always been to create a fully integrated resort of hotels, casino and shopping center where our property alone can impact the Philippine economy by creating 15,000 new job opportunities for the country. In 2007, our company received the proposal for the Pagcor Entertainment City in Manila Bay. We submitted our bid and plan for our project. Being a foreign company, we were not yet familiar with Philippine government laws and ordinances so we sought out legal counsel to guide our planning and development from the largest and most prominent law firm in the Philippines.”

“In 2008, as per Philippine law, land was acquired in Manila Bay based on the advice of our legal counsel. In a comment, by the law firm’s managing partner, in reaction to the NBI investigation, they confirm their position that these transactions were ‘legitimate and lawful.’ In 2010, The Office of The President of the Philippines presented a new interpretation to the Grandfather Rule of foreign real property ownership laws,” Mr. Horiuchi explained. “We have cooperatively been working with the OGCC since 2012, and as they had advised we have until the completion of the development to resolve the land issue. Hence, based on this recommendation we have since sought ways to find an amicable resolution to the problem. Currently, we are already in the final stages of negotiations to secure potential local partners and finding a conclusion to the ownership of land. We cannot help but speculate and express concern if there is any direct influence from our civil litigation against Wynn Resorts or the US Federal Bureaus investigation. We will continue to develop our dream of a fully integrated resort in Manila Bay that will not only create 15,000 stable jobs for the country but together with the Philippine people, attract international recognition and guests from all over the world.”

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