Sat, Aug 11, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Review ordered for casino lease after Philippines objects

Reuters, MANILA

Philippine Secretary of Justice Menardo Guevarra has ordered a review of a lease agreement for a US$1.5 billion casino project by Landing International Development Ltd (藍鼎國際發展) after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte halted it.

Just as Hong Kong’s Landing broke ground on Tuesday on the integrated casino-resort at Manila’s Entertainment City, Duterte sacked the board of the Nayong Pilipino Foundation, which administers the land and who had agreed the terms of Landing’s lease, which tied the government to a lengthy contract that collected rent at far below market value.

Guevarra said the deal between state-owned Nayong Pilipino and Landing would be investigated, but added that it did not mean the project was dead.

“The removal of all the members of the Nayong Pilipino board, by itself alone, does not affect the implementation of the project,” Guevarra told reporters on Thursday.

However, he said it could be affected by the re-evaluation of the deal and the appointment of a new Nayong Pilipino board.

Landing on Tuesday said the casino would go ahead and its lease contract remained valid, unless nullified by a court.

Landing said yesterday that it had no further comment.

The Philippine gaming regulator said yesterday that it would stick by industry policies on leases, but would respect any order issued by the president.

Maria Fema Duterte, who married into the Duterte family, told news channel ANC yesterday said she was the whistle-blower who reported the irregularities with the lease.

“There was no bidding, it did not undergo proper process. They [board members] did not publicize or put it to challenge of other investors for comparison,” said Maria Fema Duterte, a former member of the Nayong Pilipino board.

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