In the Philippines, Chinese businessman Jack Lam is reportedly facing the possibility of spending up to five years in prison after being charged by the nation’s Office of the Ombudsman with attempting to illegally bribe a trio of immigration officials.
According to a report from GGRAsia, the anti-graft government body filed extortion charges against Lam, whose given name is Lam Yin Lok, on Friday after an investigation conducted by the Philippines Senate determined that he had handed over around $967,000 to former Bureau of Immigration officials Charles Calima Jr, Michael Robles and Al Argosino.
Lam reportedly paid the cash in order to facilitate the release of some 1,316 foreign workers that had been arrested in November for allegedly running an illegal online gambling operation out of his now-shuttered Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in the Clark Freeport Zone near Angeles City. The tycoon subsequently fled the Philippines in order to avoid arrest over his connection with the enterprise while his lawyer told a Philippines Senate committee in February that Lam had no intention of ever returning to the nation.
Nevertheless, GGRAsia reported that Lam has been charged with one count of extortion under Presidential Decree 46, which states that it is illegal for ‘public officials and employees to receive, and for private persons to give, gifts on any occasion.’ He is facing being sentenced to serve between twelve months and five years in prison if extradited and subsequently found guilty at trial.
The Office of the Ombudsman has reportedly additionally filed similar bribery charges against Argosino and Robles under Republic Act 7080 with the pair now facing the possibility of being ordered to serve up to life in prison if convicted. A similar fate could moreover await Wenceslao Sombero Jr, President for the Asian Gaming Service Providers Association Incorporated, after he was charged with facilitating Lam’s bribe. Calima is being pursued under Republic Act 3019 and is confronting the prospect of being sentenced to serve a ten-year prison term.