• Customs executives face lifestyle checks

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    Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd has ordered a lifestyle check on Bureau of Customs (BOC) officials and a forensic analysis of data, including possible opening of bank accounts linked to fraudulent or corrupt activities.

    In a statement on Monday, the Department of Finance (DOF) said Dominguez’s order is part of the Duterte administration’s ongoing efforts to rid the agency of graft and corruption.

    “I think it has to start at the top, good example at the top that people do not accept bribes or are clean. I think the leadership factor is important, [that’s] number one,” he replied when asked how he would direct Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon to achieve zero corruption at the bureau.

    “Number two, we have to be smart about catching corrupt people. You cannot always catch them like, you know, playing cops and robbers. We have to catch them by … checking their lifestyle, checking their bank accounts, checking how many cars they own,” Dominguez said.

    On top of conducting a lifestyle check on Customs officials, according to the Finance chief, the DOF and its attached agencies would be doing a forensic analysis of data to expose corrupt officials, tax evaders and others involved in financial crimes.

    “That’s why part of our legislative agenda is to make sure that the privacy laws on bank accounts will allow the government to look into the bank accounts of people that have very strong evidence of corruption or tax evasion,” he said.

    “If we do not do that, we can hardly catch them. So we are going to ask the legislature to please … allow the government to look into the bank accounts of people suspected of corruption, tax evasion and crimes like that,” Dominguez added.

    The Finance department said relaxing the country’s bank secrecy law is a way to flush out corrupt government officials as well as tax dodgers in the private sector.

    It is one of the proposals that the agency plans to submit to Congress.

    The DOF has also asked the Congress to pass new legislation that will relax bank secrecy laws for tax-fraud cases and include tax evasion as a predicate crime for money laundering.

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