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Duterte orders seizure of Lam assets

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the seizure of all of casino mogul Jack Lam’s assets in the Philippines for allegedly not paying taxes.

Duterte told reporters of his decision regarding Lam on his return from a visit to Singapore. He has also ordered the arrest of Lam, who is chairman of Jimei International Entertainment Group.

The president was cited as saying that while it was true that Lam had paid taxes for all bets received by his gambling enterprise from bettors within the Philippines, no tax had been paid for bets from other countries, which were placed online.

In a further twist on the murky saga, a retired police officer and alleged representative of Lam on Friday filed a corruption complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman in the Philippines against two Bureau of Immigration officials.

According to local media, Wally Sombrero is alleging that the two officials -- associate commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles -- attempted to extort money from Lam, whose whereabouts are currently unknown. The two allegedly sought PHP50 million in exchange for the release of about 1,300 of Lam’s employees who had overstayed their visas. The Chinese employees were working at the Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino, in Pampanga.

The transaction, which involved Sombrero handing over bags of cash on behalf of Lam at the City of Dreams Manila casino was caught on CCTV cameras.

The two immigration officials involved claim that the cash handover was part of an investigation into an extortion bid by Lam to secure the release of the Chinese nationals. They have reportedly said they will resign.

Duterte ordered the arrest Lam earlier this month on allegations he attempted to bribe Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre and Pagcor chair Andrea Domingo in order to protect his Philippine casino operations. Lam reportedly fled the Philippines at the end of November.

Asia Gaming Brief is a news and intelligence service providing up to date market information for worldwide executives on relevant gaming issues in Asia.

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