The government may seize the assets of Chinese casino mogul Jack Lam if investigators find that he has accumulated tax liabilities.
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Seizure of Jack Lam assets eyed
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - January 13, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The government may seize the assets of Chinese casino mogul Jack Lam if investigators find that he has accumulated tax liabilities.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has called on the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to investigate the tax arrears of Lam for his illegal online gaming operations discovered at the Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Clark Field, Pampanga.

“The BIR should investigate his tax liabilities and make him pay. If he doesn’t pay, then his properties will be distrained and those are big ones like Fontana… and Fort Ilocandia (in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte),” Aguirre explained in a press conference yesterday.

“If he doesn’t pay, the government will sequester and sell his properties through public auction as his payment for the tax liabilities,” he added.

Aguirre cited the need to determine the total tax liabilities of Lam to fulfill one of the conditions laid down by President Duterte for the tycoon’s return to the country – that he settle his unpaid taxes.

Should Lam fail to meet the conditions, the BIR findings could then be used for sequestration proceedings on assets and properties he left in the country, Aguirre said.

According to Aguirre, Lam may also opt for a compromise deal with the government in settling his tax deficiencies, which is allowed under Philippine laws.

The justice chief earlier bared that Lam’s camp sent feelers to the Office of the President and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) for his return to the country.

Aguirre revealed that Duterte set specific conditions for Lam’s return – that he must settle his unpaid taxes, legalize his online gaming operation by applying for a license with Pagcor, face the cases against him and avoid corrupting officials here.

Lam has been at the center of controversy involving the alleged P50-million extortion by Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials supposedly for the release of 1,316 Chinese workers arrested inside the illegal online casino in Fontana in November last year.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is conducting its probe on the extortion scandal and has summoned dismissed BI deputy commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles, who received the P50 million in cash from Lam’s camp.

The NBI also summoned BI commissioner Jaime Morente, dismissed BI intelligence chief Charles Calima Jr. and former police chief superintendent Wally Sombero, who supposedly served as Lam’s middleman.

Argosino, Robles and Calima have all been dismissed from the BI. They surrendered the P30 million and P18 million cash they respectively received from Sombero, who also surrendered P2 million.

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 City Prosecutor’s Office against Calima, Sombero and Lam.

 

JUSTICE SECRETARY VITALIANO AGUIRRE II
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