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Raided POGO cries foul on PAOCC allegations

Screen grab of LS99 legal counsel Atty. Jovito Barte refutes PAOCC allegations on the company during a press conference.
Joel E. Zurbano

Lucky South 99 Corp. has refuted the allegations made by the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) claiming that the company was illegally conducting business.

Jovito Barte, the company’s lawyer, stated that the firm previously held a provisionary license approved by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), which the same agency then revoked on May 22.

The PAOCC conducted a raid on the LS99 compound in Porac, Pampanga, on June 3, just more than a week after the license was revoked.

Barte clarified that while it was true that the company no longer had a license, it was inaccurate to declare that it was operating illegally. He mentioned that the company had completely ceased all operations by that time and was in the process of winding down its affairs when the raid occurred.

Barte added that managing a large company involves tasks such as terminating employees’ services, settling debts, and fulfilling other obligations, all of which takes time.

LS99 had 7,000 employees, with the majority being foreigners, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysians, and individuals from other nationalities. Only 1,200 employees were Filipino, working as guards and maids.

Barte claimed that the raid was unlawful, highlighting that two search warrants were issued. The first warrant was withdrawn due to procedural flaws. He added that the authorities obtained the second search warrant after realizing the mistake, but by then, they had already been conducting the search and seizure operation for three days.

“The second search warrant cannot rectify the defect of the first,” the lawyer emphasized.

Barte criticized the unfairness of the license revocation and emphasized that the investors had made substantial investments in establishing the company.

LS99 reportedly paid $2 million for its application alone, and before the license was revoked, had consistently remitted $200,000 monthly to Pagcor.

To date, LS99 has paid Pagcor $300 million for the privilege of operating as an internet gaming company.

The company’s assets, including the 46 buildings in the compound, as well as the computers, cellphones, and other equipment, are valued at least at P600 million.

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