TAX EVADERS?. Customs broker and middleman Mark Taguba (right) and Kenneth Dong (left) face tax evasion charges based on their testimonies in the Senate hearing into the P6.4-billion shabu shipment.
MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Thursday, January 4, filed tax evasion complaints against customs fixer Mark Taguba and businessman Kenneth Dong, personalities implicated in the P6.4-billion shabu shipment from China last year.
BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay said in a press conference on Thursday that the complaints were filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ).
He said Taguba, the whistleblower in the shabu shipment incident, faces an P850-million tax evasion case which the BIR calculated from Taguba's own testimonies in the Senate probe into the multibillion-peso smuggled shabu.
“As a consequence of his acts and omissions, respondent Taguba evaded the payment of taxes for taxable year 2016 in the aggregate amount of P850,574,228.77, inclusive of surcharges and interests," the BIR said in a statement.
Of the amount, P660,758,572.33 represents the income tax Taguba allegedly owed the govenrment, while the P189,815,656.44 is for valued added tax.
During the congressional hearings, Taguba admitted that he brokered shipments for his clients and pulled strings at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for smoother transactions. Taguba mentioned dealing with a so-called "Davao Group," said to be influential within the BOC.
The BIR’s computation was based on Taguba’’s testimony that he charges between P170,000 to P190,000 per container van, and a trucking fee of P10,000 per container van.
“Based on the congressional inquiries and data obtained from the BOC, a total of 7,458 and 7,694 container vans were brought in by Taguba’s consignees for 2016 and 2017, respectively. For 2016 alone, Taguba earned P1,267,860,000.00 (at PhP170,000.00 per container van),” the BIR said.
The Senate blue ribbon committee report on the shabu shipment probe had tagged Taguba as the "central" figure in the corruption chain in the BOC, but cleared Customs officials who failed to keep the illegal drugs shipment from entering the port of Manila.
P11.4-M tax evasion case vs Kenneth Dong
The BIR filed an P11.4-million tax evasion complaint against Dong, based on his testimonies at the Senate hearing on the income he earned, and other documents collated by the BIR.
Dong is described as a middleman in the drug shipment issue. He is supposedly the point man of Richard Tan or Richard Chen, chairman and general manager of Philippine Hongfei Logistics Group of Companies Incorporated, the supposed importer of the shabu shipment.
Aside from his income from acting as middleman the BIR said Dong “had received compensation income in the years 2013 and 2015 from Asuki Weighing System, Inc amounting to P19,650.00 and P148,122.00, respectively."
According to the BIR, Dong did not file any Income Tax Return, Value Added Tax Return, or Percentage Tax Return from 2003 to 2017.
The BIR also said it uncovered documents that would show that Dong “gave P3 million in 2013 and P8 million in 2016 to support the election campaign of two lawmakers.”
Dong had been portrayed as a close friend of Paolo Duterte, based on their photos posted on Dong's social media account, but Dong later clarified that they were just "acquaintances."
Paolo Duterte and presidential son-in-law Manases Carpio, the husband of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, had been linked to the Davao Group but both denied the allegation. The Senate panel chaired by Senator Richard Grodon had cleared both in the shabu-smuggling incident.
The DOJ had earlier filed a drug importation case against Taguba, Dong, and other personalities before a Valenzuela court, but dismissed the cases against Customs officials, including former commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, who were included in a list of alleged corrupt officials in the BOC.
Faeldon resigned as customs chief but was later appointed as a deputy administrator of the Office of Civil Defense. – Rappler.com