PAGCOR Chairman Investigates Missing PHP75 Million Performance Bond Amid Accusations

OCR Editor. - September 6, 2023

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation's (Pagcor) Chairman and CEO, Alejandro Tengco, has launched an internal investigation concerning a missing performance bond worth PHP75 million. Charges have been filed against Tengco and several former Pagcor officials.

Alejandro Tengco, who took office as the Chairman of the Philippine Pagcor in August 2022, finds himself embroiled in a controversy involving a missing PHP75 million (£1.0m/€1.2m/$1.3m) performance bond. The bond was posted by Kamura Highlands Gaming and Holdings, a company licensed by Pagcor for online and remote betting on live cockfighting events.

The charges filed by Joaquin Sy, Chairman and CFO of Kamura, include malversation of public funds, qualified theft, and falsifying private and commercial documents. Several other former senior staff at Pagcor have also been named in the charges, including former Pagcor chief Andrea Domingo and ex-board members Gabriel Claudio, Carmen Pedrosa, Reynaldo Concordia, and James Patrick Bondoc. Notably, Pedrosa and Concordia have passed away since the alleged disappearance of the bond in July 2022.

Sy alleges that he posted the bond through two managers' cheques payable to Pagcor. He claims to have received official receipts for the bond but says the funds disappeared shortly after e-sabong operations were halted on orders from then-President Duterte. Despite multiple efforts to withdraw the bond, Sy has yet to receive a response from Pagcor. Instead, he was verbally informed that a cheque of the same amount was issued and immediately cashed in September 2022.

While Tengco took office a month after the alleged incident, he has pledged to conduct an internal investigation to ascertain the truth and hold any guilty parties accountable. "We find it strange that we are included in the alleged charges, but we will nevertheless pursue our own investigation," Tengco stated. He added that the probe is underway despite not receiving a formal complaint from the ombudsman.

The internal investigation faces several challenges. The E-Sabong Licensing Department, the division allegedly involved in the incident, has been disbanded, and its members have been reassigned. Moreover, e-song was outlawed in May 2022, further complicating the timeline of events.

Tengco assured the public that the investigation would be thorough and transparent. "While this happened before we came to Pagcor, the public can rest assured that we will get to the bottom of this. We will respond to the accusations against us in the proper venue once we receive a copy of the alleged charges from the ombudsman," he concluded.

The case puts the spotlight on the governance and internal controls of Pagcor. It raises questions about the credibility of the regulatory body responsible for overseeing gambling activities in the Philippines.



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