The Department of Justice (DoJ) on Wednesday formed a panel of prosecutors that will look into a P9.564-billion tax evasion complaint filed against beleaguered cigarette manufacturer Mighty Corp.
The move came after Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd tapped three fiscals who will conduct a preliminary investigation of the case.
They are Senior Assistant State Prosecutors Sebastian Caponong, Ma. Lourdes Uy and Mary Ann Parong.
According to the DoJ chief, the prosecutors will set the hearing that will try to find probable cause in the tax evasion case against Mighty Corp. officials.
The tobacco firm has been charged over the unlawful act of using fake stamps on cigarette packs and evading payment of the tobacco excise tax.
Once probable cause is determined, the criminal charges will be filed in courts.
The whopping P9.564-billion tax complaint was filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue against the respondents: its president, retired Lt. Gen. Edilberto Adan, who used to be deputy chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; retired trial court Judge Oscar Barrientos, executive vice president; Alexander Wong Chu King, assistant corporate secretary; and Ernesto Victa, treasurer,
The bureau argued that their officers conducted an on-the-spot surveillance operation on suspected untaxed cigarette products in four of its leased warehouses inside San Simon Industrial Park (SSIP) in San Isidro, Pampanga, and found that Mighty had put fake tax stamps on their products.
“In the presence of Bureau of Customs personnel, Philippine National Police officers, Mighty Corp. representatives, and barangay [village]officials, Internal Revenue stamps affixed on the cigarette packs were tested using the Taggant reader, a BIR-registered equipment used to test the authenticity of stamps affixed on cigarette packs,” the BIR said.
In the course of the probe, it was discovered that the seals and stamps were fake.
“The tests conducted showed that the stamps are fake or not authentic. The master cases containing the cigarettes with fake stamps were marked ‘Tested Fake’ and confiscated,” the BIR said.
It added that the inventory of all cigarette products that were confiscated in the warehouses “showed that Mighty Corp. stored 66,281 master cases containing 33,140,500 packs of cigarettes.”
It was further shown that 87.5 percent of the packs bore fake Internal Revenue stamps.
Mighty also failed to produce official delivery receipts for the subject warehouses, which meant that the products stored there did not come from its Tikay, Malolos City (Bulacan) manufacturing plant.
“It should be noted that the warehouses in SSIP are not registered with the BIR as certified by the Excise Large Taxpayer Regulatory Division. Thus, Mighty Corp. cannot legally remove these pack of cigarettes from their only plant in Tikay, Bulacan for delivery to the said unregistered warehouses,” the BIR said.
Mighty Corp. became controversial after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the arrest of its owner over allegations of attempted bribery of the President and the use of counterfeit tax stamps in its cigarette packs.
It is the manufacturer of Mighty Menthol 100’s Hard Pack; Mighty Menthol 100’s; Mighty Full Flavor King Size (red); Marvel’s Menthol 100’s; Marvel’s Menthol Hard Pack; and Marvel Menthol 100’s (green).