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FBI probe of Universal focuses on $25 million consultant fee company now disavows

The FBI and Philippine investigators probing potential bribery related to Universal Entertainment Corp's bid to build a casino in Manila have zeroed in on a $25 million payment the Japanese company now says should never have been made.Rodolfo Soriano, a consultant with ties to the former head of the gaming regulator in the Philippines, received the fee in 2010 to secure land rights for the $2 billion casino, Universal had said. But records reviewed by Reuters show those rights were obtained for free in 2009.The FBI is involved because the payment originated from a Universal subsidiary based in Nevada. Both the FBI and the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) have been looking into a total of $40 million in transfers to Soriano as a possible bribery case since last year.In a closed-door, three-day hearing with the Nevada Gaming Control Board that concluded on Friday, Universal directors, including the company's billionaire founder Kazuo Okada, were questioned about the paym...

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