Philippines bars Chris Brown from leaving over concert row

Harare – American hip-hop star Chris Brown was barred Wednesday from leaving the Philippines after a prominent religious group alleged he reneged on an agreement to perform at a 2014 concert.

The 25-year-old Grammy-winning R&B artist, who performed in Manila on Tuesday, must satisfy the government there is no basis to file swindling charges against him before he can depart, the immigration bureau said.

The influential Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ), a conservative, indigenous Christian sect, alleged Brown had failed to show up for a New Year’s Eve concert at an Iglesia-owned indoor arena on Manila’s northern outskirts last December 31.

Its chief operating officer Glicerio Santos alleged in a letter shown to reporters by the justice department that Brown and his Filipino promoter defrauded the sect.

“We would appreciate any assistance you can provide to us… (against) producers and talents who employ such fraudulent schemes to obtain money from legitimate businesses in the country,” Santos said in his letter to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

Earlier press reports said Brown had explained he could not fly to the Philippines for the Iglesia concert because he had lost his passport.

Brown and his promoter could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The justice department ordered Brown to obtain a government clearance stating he no longer has any legal obligations in the Philippines, immigration bureau spokeswoman Elaine Tan said in a statement.

Justice department officials say its prosecutors are to study the Iglesia complaint to determine if there is any basis to file criminal charges against Brown and his promoter.

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