Jack Lam charged for alleged violation of anti-dummy law

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — He may be out of the country but gaming tycoon Jack Lam is still getting into a legal mess.

Advocacy group Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) accuses Lam of violating the Anti-Dummy Act over his Fort Ilocandia property in Ilocos Norte.

"Puro offshore corporations. Very obvious na kinukubli yung totoong ownership ang mga corporation na ito para palusutan ang ating gobyerno," VACC lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said. [Those are all offshore corporations. It's very obvious that they're trying to hide the ownership of these corporations from the government.]

Topacio says Lam — a Chinese national — personally signed the purchase agreement.

"Yun nga asset purchase agreement na binili yung Fort Ilocandia from previous owners, si Mr. Jack Lam lang ang nakapirma. Ibig sabihin may control sya nun lahat ng yun sapagkat sya lang ang nakapirma," Topacio said. [Mr. Jack Lam signed the asset purchase agreement of Fort Ilocandia from its previous owners. It means he has the control over it, because he was the signatory.]

Topacio added, this violated the 60-40 Filipino-foreign ownership rule.

VACC President Dante Jimenez, meanwhile, warned other companies who are using the same scheme that they too could be legally liable.

"Ito po ay hamon sa inyo kung kayo po ay nagpapagamit sa mga foreigners, pwede po kayong tamaan ng Anti-dummy Law," Jimenez said. [If you allow yourselves to be used by foreigners, you too can be liable under the Anti-dummy Law.]

Jimenez added, aside from the forfeiture of Lam's assets, they are also gunning for an overhaul at the Immigration Bureau - beginning with its head, Jaime Morente.

"Ang ating presidente ay naghahamon ng anti-corruption campaign similar to anti-drug campaign," Jimenez said. [Our President offers us a challenge on the anti-corruption campaign similar to anti-drug campaign.]

Also read: Immigration officials face graft charges over extortion scandal

The VACC also plans to ask for the forfeiture of Lam's assets.

Topacio adds they're also looking at other properties owned by Lam — including the controversial Fontana Leisure Park and Casino in Pampanga.

Immigration personnel arrested more than a thousand illegal Chinese workers in an online gaming facility in Fontana.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said Lam's business is an example of online gaming companies that should be closed.

"The President was referring to the online operators na talagang nagva-violate ng ating gambling laws, tax laws, hindi nagbabayad ng tamang buwis tulad nung situation ni Jack Lam ... Yun talaga outright closure," said Aguirre.

[Translation: The President was referring to online operators who are violating our gambling laws, tax laws, and do not pay the right dues like Jack Lam. That's outright closure.]

Aguirre pointed out, companies complying with the law need not worry.

He said he's just waiting for an executive order creating a task force which he will lead to check on online gaming.

Lam's name has been dragged in an alleged bribery and extortion attempt involving ranking immigration officials - amounting to P50 million.

Also read: Immigration Chief to Aguirre: CIDG has ₱18M of alleged bribe money