Okada gaming group finds an ally in Peza
Document said to prove absence of corruptionBy Doris C. Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The group of Japanese gaming magnate Kazuo Okada has found an ally in the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza), shoring up the group’s legal stance against allegations of bribery.
Okada’s Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc. (TRLEI) said its Philippine subsidiary Eagle 1 Landholding Inc. had received an official letter dated Aug. 23 from Peza, stating that the local unit had complied with “all the necessary documents required for the Presidential proclamation of the Okada Resorts as Tourism Economic Zone, and TRLEI as the economic tourism locator enterprise under Republic Act 7916” (The Special Economic Zone Act of 1995).
The letter further stated that such compliance was made “without any special favors or accommodations extended,” and that the process had gone through “the usual process including the filing of an anti-graft certificate which is a basic requirement applied to all developers and locator enterprises of Peza special economic zones.”
The Peza letter signed by deputy director general Tereso Panga was disclosed by the group’s Japan-based unit Universal Entertainment Corp. to Jasdaq Securities Exchange in Tokyo.
The Peza letter provided a procedural timeline, beginning with Eagle 1’s application to have the Okada resort classified as an economic zone.
It showed that on Nov. 28, 2008 or a year before the alleged bribery took place, the Peza Board had already granted a preliminary approval for Eagle 1 to develop 30.51 hectares of its project site into an economic zone.
This was later on amended to cover a larger area of 40.80 hectares.
In a statement, the Okada group said the Peza certification should thus dispel allegations of bribery involving the Okada Resort project.
“Peza’s explicit statement of the absence of illegal spending by the company provides objective grounds for the argument that the company has made,” said the group, which has been battling allegations of bribery since last year.
“The document certifies the completion of all the procedure that Eagle 1 has complied to follow…. [It] proves the absence of any bribery and other type of corruption,” the Okada statement said. “The Anti-Graft Certificate is an essential requirement applicable to all developers and boundary setting companies concerning the economic zones designated by Peza.”
The Okada group said this affirmation from the Peza proved that all necessary documents for the presidential announcement of the designation of Okada Resorts as an economic zone and TRLEI as Universal’s Philippine subsidiary and as a company setting the eco-zone tourism boundaries were in accordance with the law.
“The Peza document proved that the allegations about illegal expenditure are totally unfounded,” Universal further noted in its filing.
The disclosure was made to disprove allegations of illegal cash flow from the Okada group in relation to the Philippine project. Another allegation was that the group had obtained preliminary Peza economic zone approval by making improper payments.