Pagcor fires third-party auditor, eyes criminal raps


THE controversial third-party auditor of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, exposed for fraud in a Senate hearing, has been terminated by the State gaming regulator, which also announced eyeing criminal and civil charges against the contractor.

“After careful investigation and in accordance with Republic Act No. 9184, otherwise known as the Government Procurement Act, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation [Pagcor] has issued a Notice to Terminate the Consultancy Contract with Global ComRCI, the third-party auditor for licensed offshore gaming operations,” Pagcor said in a statement on Thursday.

The agency said it has also endorsed the matter to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) “for the possible filing of administrative, civil and criminal cases against Global ComRCI.”

 Pagcor added it “shall likewise explore all legal remedies available for the restitution of more than P800 million out of the partial amount released to Global ComRCI prior to the assumption of the current administration as well as damages it has caused to the Corporation.”

Since September 2022, the new Pagcor management has been conducting extensive reviews of the agency’s existing contracts, among which is with Global ComRCI—a point it repeatedly stressed in Senate hearings that looked into the operations of Philipppine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), for which Pagcor had contracted GlobalComRCI as third-party auditor to ensure that it gets the proper sums pertaining to gross revenue receipts.

“Upon careful evaluation, Pagcor has determined the Third-Party Auditor to be IN DEFAULT of its obligations and prima facie evidence to have committed UNLAWFUL ACTS,” Pagcor stressed in a statement sent to media on Thursday.

“Nevertheless, under the principle of due process, Global ComRCI has been given an opportunity to be heard, as mandated by RA No. 9184,” Pagcor added.

The agency also reiterated that contrary to previous reports, it has not yet paid the contract amount of P6 billion to Global ComRCI, the amount committed by the previous Pagcor management.

“Moreover, no payment has been made by Pagcor in the past four years due to the shortfall from the minimum revenue stipulated in the contract,” according to Pagcor.

During hearings conducted by the Senate Ways and Means committee assessing the wisdom of allowing POGO operations to continue in the Philippines, panel chairman Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian showed a document sent by an international bank denying it ever issued a certification on behalf of Global ComRCI, which had used such “certification” to meet its requirements when it bagged the contract with the old Pagcor management.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Felipe Medalla also wrote the Senate, confirming that the global bank was in no position to issue any certification on behalf of any local entity,   as it had no operations nor branch office in the Philippines. Thus, the certification given by Global ComRCI, is, on its face, fraudulent.

Meanwhile, having fired its external auditor, Pagcor said it “will temporarily undertake auditing functions for its offshore licensees until it is able to contract another third-party auditor through a transparent and strict bidding process.”

Pagcor assured the public it “is firm in its commitment to uphold the integrity of the gaming industry in the country so that all revenues from regulated gaming will continue to support the government’s nation-building efforts and uplift the lives of Filipinos.”