MANILA—Bureau of Internal Revenue will soon to start investigating the tax liabilities of the properties of online gambling operator Jack Lam.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II made the statement Wednesday, stressing that the government might sequester the properties of Lam in Fort Ilocandia and the Fontana Leisure and Resorts in Clark, Pampanga if he fails to settle his obligations with the government.
Aguirre said if the BIR investigation proves that Lam did not pay taxes and failed to settle liabilities, the government will sequester his properties.
“The President said that there will be sequestration of Jack Lam’s properties, what he meant is that if there will be no settlement of the obligation to the government, the BIR will come into play dahil marami siya liability the BIR (will) investigate how much this tax liabilities and make assessment for him to pay, then it could be enforced through the BIR by investigating on the non-payment of taxes and if it is proven that there is tax liability, then there will be a restraint or levy on the said properties and if there is still no payment despite the restraint, then it will be sold at public auction,” he told reporters .
The DOJ chief explained that the sequestration would be pursued should Lam fail to return to the country and settle his tax deficiencies, which was one of the conditions set by President Rodrigo Duterte before the Chinese tycoon could be allowed to return to the country and continue his businesses here.
Aguirre also bared that Lam’s camp sent feelers to the office of the President and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) but so far this year, Lam has not sent again feeler to the DOJ that he would comply with the conditions set by the President.
He added that if Lam wants to go back in the country he must settle the taxes with the government, legalize his online gaming operation by applying for a license with the PAGCOR, face the cases against him and undertake not to corrupt officials here.
Lam, who allegedly bribed some officials of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in exchange for the release of 1,316 Chinese workers arrested in illegal online casinos at the Clark Freeport in Pampanga last November.
Reports showed that the BI deputy commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles received five paper bags allegedly containing PHP10 million each (a total of PHP50 million), from Lam’s middleman, former police officer Wally Sombero, at the City of Dreams hotel and casino in Paranaque City, which was caught on CCTV.
The resulting controversy generated by the alleged extortion/bribery led to the relief of BI deputy commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles as well as BI intelligence chief Charles Calima and technical assistant for intelligence Edward Chan.
Argosino, Robles returned the PHP30 million cash while Calima also returned the PHP18 million cash were they respectively received from Sombero, who also surrendered PHP2 million.
Aguirre said the NBI is still conducting its probe on the extortion scandal and has summoned Argosino and Robles, as well as Calima, BI commissioner Jaime Morente and former police chief superintendent Wally Sombero, who supposedly served as Lam’s middleman.
Calima has filed plunder charges against Argosino and Robles before the Office of the Ombudsman. Argosino and Robles, on the other hand, filed criminal charges of corruption of public officials and violation of anti-wiretapping law before the Parañaque prosecutor’s office against Calima, Sombero and Lam.
Last Dec. 23, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) filed charges against Lam and four other people before the DOJ accusing them of circumventing the 40 percent foreign ownership requirement for businesses in the Philippines in relation to his interest in Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel in Laoag City, where he runs a casino that was recently shuttered by the government.
The VACC said Lam violated Section 2-A of Commonwealth Act 108 or the Anti-Dummy Law.