The Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) Third Division entered a not-guilty plea in behalf of Jeane Napoles after she refused to enter any plea in a P17.46-million tax evasion charge lodged against her.
Jeane, the youngest daughter of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, is accused of alleged non-payment of income tax in 2011.
“Your Honor as advised by my legal counsel, I refuse to enter a plea,” the younger Napoles told the court after the charge was read to her.
Associate Justice Esperanza Fabon-Victorino then said, “Let a plea of not guilty be entered into the records of this case.”
Upon entering the court building and leaving the courtroom, Jeane, tall in her black jacket and black sequined flats, hid her face behind a white folder.
She also refused to enter any plea last May over alleged non-filing of income tax return (ITR) in 2011.
During that year, she allegedly acquired and registered under her name a $1.28-million (P54.72 million) Ritz Carlton condominium unit in Los Angeles, California, but did not declare income earned for that taxable year.
The two cases will be jointly heard by the Third Division, after the court earlier granted the prosecution’s motion to consolidate the two cases.
Preliminary conference for both was set for July 14 and the pre-trial, for July 29.
The arraignment on Wednesday pushed through “without prejudice” to the ruling that will be issued by the court on the defense’s appeal to the CTA’s finding of probable cause to try the cases.
On Tuesday, the defense filed a motion for reconsideration, saying Jeane was a university student who held an F1 Visa barring her from engaging in business in the US and that her parents only entrusted the condominium unit to her.
“This is a clear rebuttal of the allegation that she had income to be able to acquire the said property,” it said.
“The only income/money the accused was receiving at the time material to this case was the allowance/support from her parents, which is excluded from gross income for tax purpose,” the defense added.