MACAU-based gaming tycoon Jack Lam slipped out of the country days before President Rodrigo Duterte’s order for his arrest over bribery and economic sabotage, records of the Bureau of Immigration showed.
Travel records of the bureau showed that “Lam Yin Lok,” Jack Lam’s name in travel documents, left the country on November 29 on a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong.
Four days prior, 1,316 Chinese nationals were arrested by immigration agents for illegal online gaming operations in Lam’s Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino at the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga, and for working without work visas and permits.
Duterte ordered Lam’s arrest on Saturday.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd said Lam could be arrested without a warrant, as Duterte’s order was anchored on charges of “economic sabotage.”
Aguirre argued that the crime of economic sabotage is a continuing offense, thus, a suspect may be arrested without a warrant pursuant to the rules on warrantless arrests.
“Economic sabotage is a continuing offense, thus there could be warrantless arrest,” Aguirre said.
Under regular procedures, an arrest warrant is required and must be secured from a court before a person is apprehended.
The Rules of Court provides exceptions. These include the arrest of a person who is about to commit a crime, is actually committing a crime or has committed a crime; or the arrest of a person who is a fugitive from justice.
While a warrantless arrest may be valid for the economic sabotage charge, Aguirre could not say if it could apply to bribery accusations against Lam.
The DOJ chief earlier claimed Lam’s camp attempted to bribe him and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) chief Andrea Domingo.
Lam’s camp offered money to secure the release of the Chinese workers, Aguirre said. The Chinese businessman, the Cabinet official also said, offered a 1-percent commission to Domingo in exchange for allowing the online gaming operations to continue pending the approval of a license from Pagcor.
The meeting between Aguirre and Lam at a Bonifacio Global City hotel last November 26 was facilitated by a former police general, Wally Sombero.
On Friday, Lam’s lawyer, Raymond Fortun, denied the bribery allegations and shifted the blame to Sombero.
Fortun claimed talk about a “ninong” or godfather needed by Lam in the government came from Sombero, and that “Sombero exceeded the purpose of his representation.”