Chinese online games operator denies bribe attempt on Aguirre

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A lawyer for a Chinese online gaming operator based in Clark free port on Friday denied offering a bribe to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. chief Andrea Domingo to secure the release of more than a thousand Chinese nationals arrested by immigration agents last November 24.

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Lawyer Raymond Fortun, who represents Chinese businessman Jack Lam, shifted the blame to retired police officer Wally Sombero, who accompanied Lam to a meeting with Aguirre in a Bonifacio Global City hotel last November 26.

At the Pandesal Forum in Kamuning Bakery, Fortun described Lam as a “legitimate businessman with proper legal authority to operate the Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino.”

Fortun added that talk about a “ninong” or godfather needed by Lam in the government came from Sombero. “Sombero exceeded the purpose of his representation,” he said.

Sombero, in an interview with GMA News, denied any wrongdoing and blamed the controversy on “miscommunication.”

Fortun denied Aguirre’s claim, saying Lam merely wanted to explain the legality of his activities at Fontana. The meeting lasted 10 minutes and Lam did not speak directly to Aguirre, he said.

“All are allegations that Lam offered bribe. Ang suhol ay para sa illegal na gawain. [Bribe is for illegal activities.] It doesn’t exist. Why would you give a bribe if you’re not doing anything illegal,” Fortun said.

Alex Yu, a Chinese Filipino who was one of Lam’s two interpreters during the meeting, said they were merely introduced by Sombero to Aguirre. Only Sombero and Aguirre talked, he said.

“He (Sombero) brought and presented the profile [of Lam]. After that all were bulungan [whispering]between them,” Yu said.

As for the separate meeting with Pagcor chief Andrea Domingo, Yu said Lam only discussed tax payments with the state-run gaming company.

Fortun noted that immigration agents claimed the Chinese nationals were working as call center agents.

“In the affidavit of arresting officers, they claimed that they saw them engaged in cyber activities. However, they could not pinpoint who among the 1,316 arrested were in fact engaging in cyber activities or online gaming,” Fortun said.

Lam, he said, “improved Fontana’s facilities and operation when no one was interested in re-investing in it. Furthermore, he has an existing license to conduct online gaming in Clark Economic Zone.”

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