Landing International Hits Another Snag as Philippine Lease Partners Become Subject of Possible Government Probe
Posted on: August 31, 2018, 12:00h.
Last updated on: August 31, 2018, 10:34h.
A lease agreement between Hong Kong-based Landing International Development and the Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF) is adding to the resort developer’s woes.
The Philippine Senate has been asked to investigate former board members of NPF — a local non-profit operating under the country’s tourism department — accusing the organization of orchestrating a corrupt land deal at the site of a planned $1.5 billion resort in Manila.
That’s one final gut punch for Landing as August wraps up: it was a disastrous four-week stretch which punished the company’s stock, capped off by a 4.24 percent drop on Thursday.
Not a Good Month
Ironically, Landing entered August in an upswing. On the eve of breaking ground on the massive resort project, the company’s stock took a dramatic vertical ascension during the month of July, going from 0.12 HKD per share to a high of 8.34 HKD on July 26.
Since then, everything has gone from bad to worse.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte fired NPF’s entire board on August 8, the day of the planned groundbreaking of NayonLanding resort. Landing insisted construction will move forward and meet its targeted opening. However, that proclamation did nothing to stop the company’s tumbling stock, which was steadily trending downwards since peaking in late July.
The company reached the edge of the cliff last week when Landing chairman Yang Zhiui went missing, to the surprise of even his own executives. He was reportedly “detained” in Cambodia and has been linked to a massive corruption scandal. The episode decreased Landing’s value by 35 percent in a matter of hours.
To stop the hemorrhaging, the company asked the Hong Kong stock exchange to stop trades for the day.
He Said, She Said
The future of the NayonLanding project is now as unstable as Landing’s stock.
Corruption, power play, incompetence, and dishonesty, especially if government is involved, adversely affect not only this particular project, but other high-stakes development projects of the government,” Philippine Senate Committee Chair Francis Joseph Escudero said in calling for an investigation, according to a Business World Online report.
Duterte has said the lease agreement with NPF was unfavorable to the government. But since-fired NPF Chair Patricia Yvette Ocampo released a statement to several Philippine newspapers contesting the president’s claim.
Despite the fact that all procedural and legal requirements were strictly followed by the NPF board in getting the project off the ground, opponents and critics of the project had shemelssly foisted lies about the project, and falsely and maliciously accused the NPF, its trustees, and its officials of graft and corruption in approving the deal with Landing Resorts Philippines Development Corp,” Ocampo said.
She went on to cite the law which she claims makes the case for the lease being a legal document.
Duterte has pledged that no more casinos will be built in the Philippines. When Landing was approved for the license by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR) earlier this year, it came with a provision that complied with a five-year ban on new casinos in the country.
Landing officials have said they plan to move forward with construction and plan to meet the 2022 targeted completion.
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