PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the arrest of online gaming operator Jack Lam for alleged “bribery and economic sabotage,” Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa said on Saturday.
In a radio interview, de la Rosa said Duterte was “very angry” at Lam and wanted the Chinese businessman arrested immediately.
De la Rosa called on the public to provide the PNP with any information on Lam’s whereabouts.
He also revealed that Duterte had ordered the closure of Lam’s Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino at the Clark economic zone in Pampanga.
In a separate radio interview, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd confirmed Duterte’s order to arrest Lam and said the Chinese businessman would be barred from leaving the country.
“Jack Lam will be charged for operating a business without permit. There’s no need for a warrant of arrest,” Aguirre said in Filipino.
Aguirre accused Lam of attempting to bribe him to secure the release of thousands of Chinese nationals arrested last November 24 for illegally working at an underground online gambling operation in Clark.
“Some police and immigration officers may have earned money because 70 illegal Chinese workers have fled the country,” Aguirre said.
“From P100,000, the bribe went up to P250,000 per head to free the illegal Chinese workers caught in Fontana,” he added.
Aguirre also accused Lam of trying to offer Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. chief Andrea Domingo a cut in his online gambling earnings.
The Chinese businessman’s camp, through lawyer Raymond Fortun, on Friday said Lam was a legitimate businessman with legal authority to operate at Fontana.
Fortun denied the bribery accusations but admitted Lam indeed met with Aguirre at the Shangri-La Hotel in Bonifacio Global City last November 26.
Lam was introduced to Aguirre by retired police chief superintendent Wally Sombero, a resource person at the Department of Justice on small town lottery issues.
Aguirre earlier said Sombero told him that Lam had been looking for a “godfather” to protect his gambling business, which the Cabinet official perceived as a bribe attempt.
Fortun blamed Sombero, saying the former police official “exceeded the purpose of his representation.”