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The Globe and Mail

Japanese tycoon's $2-billion dream casino in Manila mired in bribery probe

Self-made billionaire Kazuo Okada's Universal Entertainment tried to push through a casino deal in the Philippines in the final months of the Arroyo administration. Now that deal, including tens of millions in alleged bribes, is under investigation both there and in the U.S. The resort is still unfinished.

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Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada’s Universal Entertainment Corp. funnelled at least $30-million (U.S.) to an ex-consultant for the Philippines gaming authority who is now at the centre of a bribery investigation, according to sources and company records.


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File photos show Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn, left, and Universal Entertainment Corp. CEO Kazuo Okada. Mr. Okada staked Mr. Wynn for $380-million (U.S.) to jump-start his Wynn Las Vegas resort. The relationship later foundered when Mr. Wynn declined to invest in the Philippines.


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Kazuo Okada, third from right, appears with local officials during the ground-breaking ceremony of the casino-hotel project in Manila Jan. 26, 2012, five years after the land had initially been purchased.


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The headquarters of Universal Entertainment Corp. is pictured in Tokyo Nov. 30, 2012.

Toru Hanai/REUTERS

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Galaxy Macau, a resort in Macau built by Galaxy Entertainment Group, is lit up in the evening after it opened for business in this May 15, 2011 file photo. By 2011, the Macau market was bringing in almost $34-billion a year, making it more than five times larger than Las Vegas.


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Mr. Okada and his wife Takako Okada attend the opening ceremony of a dining complex in Hong Kong in this May 15, 2012 file photo.


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A worker holds on to a steel bar as he builds a temporary office behind signage of ‘Entertainment City’ in Manila in this Nov. 23, 2012 file photo.


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An employee walks past tables at SJM Holdings Ltd.’s flagship casino Grand Lisboa, owned by Macau tycoon Stanley Ho, in Macau in this Feb. 11, 2007 file photo. Mr. Okada intended his $2-billion resort in Manila to rival those of Las Vegas and Macau.


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A tricycle driver eats in front of the Grand Lisboa casino in Macau Oct. 10, 2012. Macau is set to be the world's fastest growing economy this year, but residents say public infrastructure, transport and welfare significantly lags that of the gambling sector.


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The main gambling floor of the Marina Bay Sands casino in Singapore is seen in this April 27, 2010 file photo. Casino gambling revenues in the Asia-Pacific region have more than tripled since 2007, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.


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Tourists stand at a promenade across the water from the $5.5-billion Marina Bay Sands integrated resort in Singapore in this June 22, 2010 file photo.


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Visitors try a dice game at Gaming Expo Asia in Macau in this May 22, 2012 file photo. The Asia-Pacific region is set to overtake the U.S. market as largest in the world next year when gambling revenues reach $67-billion from $58-billion in 2012.


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The logo of the Universal Entertainment Corp. is seen at the company's headquarters in Tokyo. The Manila project, now scaled down and dubbed Manila Bay Resorts, is scheduled to open in 2014, four years behind initial projections.


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