• COA urged to probe Customs reward ‘scam’

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    Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. (PSPC asked the Commission on Audit (COA) to investigate an alleged tax informer’s reward scam allegedly perpetrated by a “syndicate” composed of retired and incumbent personnel of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in conspiracy with some private individuals.

    In a letter to COA chairman Michael Aguinaldo, former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo, on behalf of Pilipinas Shell, requested that COA audit the informer’s reward payments of the BOC and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) from 2004 to 2010.

    Shell is represented by the Cruz Marcelo and Tenefrancia Law Office.

    Marcelo claimed that insiders from the tax agencies disclosed that a fraudulent scheme was being implemented by some groups who want to illegally benefit from the informer’s reward system under the Tariff and Customs Code (TCC).

    Marcelo decried the payment of millions of pesos in informer’s rewards even though it was without legal basis. He said the cash reward appears to be the incentive of the syndicate to fabricate liabilities against law-abiding taxpayers even when no tax is legally due.

    The law firm cited a supposed previous fraudulent reward scheme perpetrated against Chevron Phils., after it was directed to pay over a billion pesos in duties when its goods were declared abandoned because of its failure to file the required import entry documents within the non-extendible period of 30 days as provided by law.

    The supposed informer in the case was reportedly able to collect about P200 million as reward, equivalent to 20 percent of the dutiable value of the shipments declared abandoned.

    The same syndicate, emboldened by its scheme and payout in Chevron, is now after the PSPC and is pushing that it be declared liable for alleged unpaid excise taxes amounting to around P7 billion in a case now pending with the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA).

    The syndicate is reportedly looking at an P8 billion reward.

    Under the law however, to be entitled to a reward, the informant must provide information that is instrumental in the discovery and seizure of goods, documents not yet in the possession of the tax authorities.

    Marcelo noted that like the case of Chevron, all the import documents of Pilipinas Shell and its payment of taxes and duties were in the possession of the BOC and the BIR.

    He said no reward was due the alleged informer since the information used against Chevron was already in the possession of the BOC and the BIR.

    “We would like to respectfully request the Honorable Office to investigate this criminal syndicate considering that the extremely huge informer’s rewards collected came from public funds that should have otherwise accrued to the Government,” Marcelo said.

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