MANILA Dec 8 Philippine President Rodrigo
Duterte said on Thursday he would allow Jack Lam, one of Asia's
top casino kingpins, to do business in the country after he had
ordered his arrest on charges of economic sabotage and bribery.
Duterte said he would allow the casino boss to come back to
the Philippines if he apologised for bribing an official and
paid the correct taxes.
Lam, from the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau, has been
operating online gambling at a former U.S. air force base
without a license, the justice department said.
"On the condition that he lets go of original contract ...
Just pay taxes, don't bribe anybody," Duterte told reporters
after saying Lam had sent surrender feelers to the authorities.
There was no immediate comment from Lam, according to his
lawyer, Raymond Fortun, and his whereabouts were not known.
Philippine police say he is not in the country.
Last month, Philippine immigration authorities detained
about 1,200 Chinese men working without permits in call
centre-like facilities for running suspected online gambling
operations out of the former U.S. air base, Clark Field.
Philippine police chief Ronald Dela Rosa said on Saturday an
associate of Lam tried to secure their release. He said Duterte
had ordered the arrest of Lam.
Philippine authorities said they had shut down two
properties owned by Lam, who is a Chinese citizen and head of
Hong Kong-listed Jimei International
Lam, who used to bring high rollers to Macau's top casinos
including Sands China and Wynn Macau, has
faded from prominence over the past few years as a Chinese
crackdown on corruption has crippled so-called junket
At the same time, Lam's operations in the Philippines have
grown, including a rise in Chinese nationals gambling online at
his gaming site.
(Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Robert Birsel)