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MANILA, Philippines - Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has ordered the filing of criminal charges before the Sandiganbayan against 17 officials of the Department of Finance (DOF) and several private individuals for their involvement in a series of "tax credit scam" from 1993 to 1998.
In an 88-page resolution, Morales ordered the filing of charges for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act", and estafa thru falsification of public documents against former DOF Undersecretary Antonio Belicena; former Deputy Executive Director Uldarico Andutan, Jr.; reviewers Asuncion Magdaet, Jane Aranas and Rowena Malonzo; and evaluators Sylvialina Daguimol, Mark Binsol, Annabelle Diño, Merose Tordesillas, Charmelle Recoter, Marife Cabadin, Gemma Abarra, Emelita Tizon, Gregoria Evangelio, Purita Napeñas, Cherry Gomez, and Ma. Cristina Moncada.
Also charged were officials of private corporation Filipino Way, and its purported supplier-companies: Filsyn Corp., Hi-Lon Manufacturing Co., Inc., Manila Bay Spinning Mills, Inc., Wise and Co. Inc., Bush Boake Allen Philippines, Inc., Dragon Textiles Mills, Inc., Steel Asia Manufacturing Corp., and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp.
The Ombudsman found that the officials of the DOF's One Stop Shop-Inter Agency Tax Credit and Duty Drawback Center (Center) conspired with one another and with the officials of the private companies in giving unwarranted benefits through manifest partiality and evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence to Filipino Way and to said private persons by granting a total of 83 tax credit certificates (TCCs) amounting to P202,443,563.00 in favor of Filipino Way.
Records show that of the said amount, about P101,881,374.00 were used by Filipino Way to pay its own tax liabilities, while about P90,046,858.00 worth of tax credits were transferred to the other companies.
It was found out that Filipino Way has "no physical or legal existence," and that its purported proprietor Richard Noriegas is a fictitious person.
This makes it improbable for the transferees to be Filipino Way's suppliers of capital equipments, raw materials or components.
Filipino Way also submitted spurious or simulated export declarations, bills of lading, bank credit memos, export sales invoices, supply agreements and deeds of assignment to make it appear that it is entitled to tax credits.
The Center was created under Administrative Order No. 226 dated Feb. 7, 1992 primarily to process tax credit and duty drawback applications as incentives to BOI-registered enterprises.
The said incentives consist of government refund payments on duties and taxes.
The case arose from a complaint filed by the Special Presidential Task Force 156 (SPTF 156) that was created in 1999 "to review, investigate, and gather evidence necessary to successfully prosecute irregularities committed at the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Customs, and other Government Agencies under or attached to the Department of Finance."
It can be recalled that in the first set of "tax credit scam" cases resolved in March 2012, Morales dismissed from the service 13 DOF officials, including Belicena and Andutan, for defrauding the government of P82 million and P74.84 million, respectively, stemming from the "tax credit scam" from 1994 to 1998.
The said 13 DOF officials were found guilty of grave misconduct and were meted the penalty of dismissal from the service, with accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and perpetual disqualification from re-employment in the government service.
Since Belicena had already retired from the government service, he was meted the accessory penalties.
The Ombudsman also ordered in the same previous resolution the filing of 20 counts of violation of Section 3 (e) of RA 3019 and 20 counts of estafa thru falsification of public documents.