The Chairwoman and CEO of the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corp has denied being offered a bribe from Macau-based gaming scion Jack Lam. Andrea Domingo, the current Pagcor chief, did acknowledge that she met with gaming tycoon Lam three times, but maintained that there was no bribe offered or taken whatsoever.
Earlier this week Domingo addressed the Senate for the third time on the corruption scandal which involved the Bureau of Immigration. She categorically denied being offered a bribe, and also very clearly stated that she had never met with Wenceslao Sombero (AKA “Wally”) who is a retired police superintendent and works as Jack Lam’s middle man.
Once again, Sombero was absent from the hearing and this resulted in the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations of the Senate in the Philippines (also known as the Blue Ribbon Committee) to make a push for the cancellation of Sombero’s passport so as to forcibly have him return to the country and face inquiry. Sombero cited health reasons for his absence. He was cited for contempt.
However, Sombero’s passport will remain valid until Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III signs the contempt order. Senator Richard Gordon said that he shall take it upon himself to ensure that Pimentel’s signature is on the contempt order at the earliest possible. Once Pimentel’s initials are on the order, it will lead to the automatic cancellation of Sombero’s passport and he will have no option but to return from Canada where he currently is and will have to then inevitably face the music.
Domingo did confess to meeting Lam on three occasions, but did not leave any room for speculation. She said that that on all three occasions she was accompanied by members of her legal and technical staff and the purpose of the meetings were to discuss the operation of the Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino located in Pampanga. It was essentially a negotiation where Pagcor was trying to get Lam to pay the appropriate fees to the government even though his company had previously been offered special rates.
Domingo reiterated the importance of Pagcor striking a deal with Lam. She claimed that as a result of Lam’s firm being offered special rates, the government had lost a sum of money which amounted to around $28 million and that number would only keep increasing with time.
Supposedly, Lam only paid a mere 1% of gross revenues to the government whereas other casinos based in Clark were paying as much as ten times more. Furthermore, Domingo also alleged that Lam was guilty of bringing in illegal immigrants into the country after it transpired that nearly 1000 illegally living Chinese nationals had all settled in Fontana villas thanks to Lam.
Lam said that he would settle his dues. If he fails to do so, Aguirre confirmed that his assets will be sold at auction and the government will gain all proceeds from any such auctions.