Philrem, the firm that remitted part of the $81 million stolen from the Bangladesh Bank, found itself in deeper trouble when Commissioner Kim Henares of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) claimed that the firm is operating illegally.
Henares, one of the resource persons invited by the Senate blue ribbon committee investigating the money-laundering scandal, said Philrem has been using receipts not registered with the BIR.
She presented a sample of a receipt issued by Philrem to its clients.
“First, this is a violation of the National Internal Revenue Code because the receipt should have been registered with the BIR since 2013,” Henares said.
She explained that her bureau had required companies to have their receipts, delivery or acknowledgment registered.
Henares said Philrem is not a registered remittance company.
According to her, the company was registered with the BIR under “other land transportation transactions,” not as a remittance firm.
Philrem, she said, amended its articles of incorporation in 2005 but it did not bother to update its registration with the BIR.
Henares noted that the firm is not paying the correct tax because it is providing services that are not based on its registration with the bureau.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) also on Tuesday said Philrem is a registered remittance agent but it does not have a license to operate as a foreign exchange dealer or money changer.
“She [Henares] said [Philrem] is not registered with the BIR. That is a different matter,” BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. told The Manila Times in a text message.
“Philrem is registered with BSP as a remittance agent from AMLA [Anti-Money Laundering Act] compliance purposes only,” he said.
Senator Teofisto Guingona 3rd, head of the blue ribbon panel, subpoenaed Philrem messenger Mark Palmares to appear in the hearing next week.
Guingona was forced to issue the subpoena after Palmares failed to appear in the hearing twice.
“Niloloko ninyo kami [You have been making fools of us] and your credibility is running very, very low,” he also told Philrem officials.
Salud Bautista, owner of Philrem, said Palmares was with her when the first tranche of cash was delivered to Wei Kang Xu in Solaire casino.