Wednesday November 27 ,2013 : BODOG ISSUE IN THE PHILIPPINES ESCALATES
Charges and counter charges as publicity war continues.
The mudslinging between Bodog Asia and its former Philippines manager Robert Gustafsson has continued into this week and appears unlikely to enhance the image of the parties involved, or indeed the industry in that region going forward.
Our readers will recall from previous reports that Gustafsson and a number of other former Bodog Asia employees stand accused, and have been charged with a raft of offences involving dishonesty, allegedly prejudicing the company to the tune of several hundreds of thousands of dollars….with auditors still examining the financial records for further losses.
There have been unsavoury claims and counter claims of political involvement, illegal operations in contravention of Philippines regulations, the alleged involvement of Bodog founder and more recently brand franchiser Calvin Ayre, rape, intimidation, threats of violence, falsified government press releases and now police misconduct that allegedly took place during the five-hour police search of Bodog Asia's Manila call centre last week.
In the latest developments, a rape charge against Ayre by a former Bodog Asia employee has been formerly withdrawn after the rapee declared that she had been coerced into laying the charge by one of Gustafsson's associates in an apparent effort to distract attention from the growing list of criminal charges piling up against the Gustafsson group.
And new allegations have now been made by a Bodog Asia employee present during the police raid that members of the raiding party – who incidentally left the offices in a shambles and reportedly seized around 500 computers – had scoffed food brought in for employees locked down in the offices by the police, along with some of the contents of aid parcels being assembled for the victims of the recent hurricane in the region.
Even worse, there are allegations that aid monies being collected at the Bodog office for the disaster survivors had been plundered.
Another new allegation is that Gustafsson or one of his cohorts has used Facebook to threaten the public release of sex tapes involving an unnamed Bodog manager unless the prosecution of Gustafsson is stopped.
Bodog immediately responded by telling one of the online gambling websites closely (if not entirely objectively) following this issue that it has no knowledge that could possibly support such an incident.
On Monday Gustafsson, who has clearly gone onto the publicity offensive, gave an interview with a local Manila broadcaster in which he made fresh if vague and general allegations that Bodog Asia had bribed "people in Macau", something which Bodog Asia again felt constrained to deny, pointing out that it does not carry out business activity in that region.
Gustafsson later stressed that he was not personally involved in the bribes.
Gustafsson has also been accused in some industry media reports of being behind an attempt to influence opinion by sending fake Philippines government press releases implicating Ayre and Bodog in possibly criminal activity.
If true this is an extraordinarily inept attempt at waging a media war – the releases reportedly originate from a US gmail address!
Any way you look at it, this affair continues to deliver unpleasant perceptions of the Philippines scandal that have the potential to spill over to the industry in general…but it seems there is no escaping the fresh revelations that appear set to surface in the days to come.