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Palace: PHL, PAGCOR's Naguiat are collateral damage in Wynn-Okada boardroom war

Malacañang on Thursday said the country and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) Chairman Cristino Naguiat Jr. are “collateral damage” in the boardroom battle between casino magnates Steve Wynn and Kazuo Okada.   “This is a huge intra-corporate controversy between Mr. Steve Wynn and Mr. [Kazuo] Okada. May away po sa loob niyan. Talagang they are trying to wrest control over the company,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.   He said Wynn hired a private investigator, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation director, to conduct a probe against Okada, who filed a HK$1-billion case against Wynn.   “So obviously this is a fight between two gaming titans. The Philippines has become and PAGCOR has become a collateral damage there,” said Lacierda.   He said Naguiat went to Macau as a casino operator because a provisional agreement for Okada’s company has already been signed in 2008. In a report, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) said it has been alleged in filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission that Okada had billeted “Naguiat, his wife, their three children, and nanny,” at company expense, in expensive suites at the Wynn Resorts Hotel that cost up to $6,000 a night. "In their 69-page information, the board of directors of Wynn filed with the Clark County of Nevada a case for breach of fiduciary duty and related offenses — “gross improprieties” and making “unlawful payments to foreign gambling regulators” — against Okada and his agents, Aruze USA, Inc., and Universal Entertainment Corp." Malou Mangahas of PCIJ reported. The PCIJ report also said that in the Nevada case file, Okada and his agents had, "in 36 separate instances between May 2008 and June 2011...made payments in the amount of $110,000 that directly benefited various PAGCOR officials, including Naguiat and his family, and former PAGCOR Chair [Efraim] Genuino." Defense of Naguiat   “When he (Naguiat) went to Wynn Macau, there was a gaming convention of casino operators and, if you know how it goes, casino operators are provided accommodations elsewhere. If they come here as casino operators, the casino operator is also given the same accommodation. There is no ethical violation because he was there as a casino operator and not as casino regulator,” he said.   The chief Palace spokesman added that Naguiat did not know the rate of the room that he stayed in. “So, again, he was also surprised at the amount of the alleged room per day,” said Lacierda.   He also said (former) First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and former PAGCOR chief Efraim Genuino, who were also dragged into the issue, to answer the charges against them.   “It is up to Mr. Genuino and the (former) First Gentleman to answer that. We cannot speak for them. I don’t know what they received and it is up to them to explain themselves,” he said.   “As far as we are concerned, as far as Mr. Naguiat is concerned, he (Naguiat) has not profited personally from this alleged accusation by Mr. Steve Wynn,” Lacierda noted.   He said Naguiat paid for the transportation expenses of the members of his family who went to Macau with him. — ELR/KG, GMA News