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The Macau Metro Monitor, March 18, 2013


The F.B.I. and Philippine investigators investigating potential bribery related to Universal Entertainment’s bid to build a casino in Manila have zeroed in on a $25 million payment the company now says should never have been made.  Rodolfo Soriano, a consultant with ties to the former head of the gambling regulator in the Philippines, received the fee in 2010 to secure land rights for the $2 billion casino, Universal had said.  But records reviewed by Reuters show those rights were obtained free in 2009.

The F.B.I. is involved because the payment originated with a Universal subsidiary based in Nevada. Both the F.B.I. and the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation have been looking into a total of $40 million in transfers to Mr. Soriano since last year as a possible case of bribery.

In a closed-door, three-day hearing with the Nevada Gaming Control Board that concluded Friday, directors of Universal, a Japanese company, were questioned about the payment.  Among those questioned was the company’s billionaire founder, Kazuo Okada.