Lam sued for using dummies

Jack Lam

MANILA – The anti-corruption watchdog Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) filed charges of violation of the Anti-Dummy Law against casino operator Jack Lam and other officials before the Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday.

The VACC also called on the DOJ to nullify the purchase agreements made by Lam with Grand Ilocandia and Waterfront Philippines Inc. for being contrary to law.

The VACC filed the eight-page complaint against the former and incumbent officials of Fort Ilocandia Property Holdings & Development Corp. (Fort Ilocandia) – Lam, as Lam Yin Lok, director; Rosanno Nisce, former president; Sua Wah Chung, a British national and former chairman of the board of directors; and Jose Roberto Mumuric, former secretary and director.

“Through corporate layering, Fort Ilocandia, through its dummy companies and its directors and officers, are able to exercise, enjoy, use and exploit real property in the Philippines, contrary to law,” the VACC said.

On Sept. 9, 2000, the Grand Ilocandia became the original operator and owner of Fort Ilocandia Resort and Hotel when it entered into a deal. Through the purchase agreement, Fort Ilocandia Holdings was able to acquire from Grand Ilocandia properties and assets including the Fort Ilocandia Resort and Hotel.

“There is a violation of the Anti-Dummy Law, when a qualified Filipino citizen or national allows a foreign citizen or non-qualified person to enjoy rights, privileges, property or business, the exercise of which is limited to Filipino citizens,” the VACC said.

“For liability to attach, it must first be established that there is a law limiting or reserving the enjoyment or exercise of a right, franchise or business to citizens of the Philippines or to corporations or associations at least (60 percent) of the capital of which is owned by such citizens,” it added.

The VACC cited records of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) showing the stocks of Fort Ilocandia Holdings are shared among Ilocandia Holdings Corp. which holds 59 percent of Filipino shares; Intellectual Group Ltd. (IGL) which owns 39 percent of foreign shares; and less than one percent to Lam.

However, the VACC said Lam also had some control of IGL when he signed a deal on May 6, 2000, on behalf of IGL, over a P150-million loan given to WPI.

The VACC added Ilocandia Holdings has 39 percent foreign ownership through Corpsmart Ltd. and 59 percent Filipino ownership through Sevenseas Holdings.

“The corporate structure of the above corporations, despite being seemingly complaint with the Philippine laws, warrants a deeper investigation as to their real foreign equities and those of their subsidiaries and/or affiliates,” the VACC said.

The VACC also called for a “top to bottom” revamp at the Bureau of Immigration following the bribe scandal involving former deputy commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles.

Both officials resigned after they were accused of receiving a P50-million bribe from Lam in exchange for releasing illegal Chinese workers.

Among the officials involved in the bribery scandal were Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente and Immigration intelligence chief Charles Calima.

“So we urge Mr. President, please give the secretary of justice the authority to overhaul the BI because even before it is riddled with corruption,” VACC founder Dante Jimenez said.

The principal players of the bribery scandal have filed charges against each other.

On Thursday, Calima filed charges against Argosino and Robles.

Calima said Argosino and Robles’ equal sharing of P24 million each from the P50 million given by Lam is an indication that the two officials were the only ones involved in the extortion anomaly.

The two officials claimed P18 million of the bribe money was taken by Calima while the remaining P2 million went to retired police general Wally Sombero, supposedly acting on Lam’s behalf.

The P50 million that Lam shelled out was supposedly for the release of 1,316 Chinese nationals working at his Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Clark, Pampanga.

Following the bribery scandal, Calima was sacked.

As for Morente, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said he could not recommend a replacement for the immigration chief since he is a presidential appointee.