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National

BIR starts probe into Janet Lim Napoles' assets and taxes

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has opened its own investigation into the properties and holdings of Janet Lim Napoles, the figure at the center of a controversy involving up to P10-billion in pork barrel funds allegedly released to questionable non-government organizations as part of a kickback scheme involving legislators.

Napoles has been accused of having setting up fake NGOs, and using the same to corner contracts and discretionary funds from members of Congress.

BIR chief Kim Henares on Thursday said the purpose of their probe is not necessarily to determine the legitimacy of Napoles' organizations or dealings with members of the House of Representatives. Rather, she said, the BIR would simply like to check if Napoles has been paying her taxes, given that she has admitted to owning various properties and assets.

Media reports over the past two weeks have also tied Napoles and her family to many properties here and abroad, some of which reports her lawyers are now challenging as inaccurate and libelous.

"When we investigate, it is comprehensive," BIR chief Henares said. "I cannot tell you where we're looking, what we're looking at. What I can do is assure you that it is a comprehensive investigation."

"The series of articles (on Napoles and the P10-billion pork barrel questions) came out (in the Inquirer, and) so we've started investigating (starting with and based on what came out) in the article in the Inquirer."

Henares added that "we don't put a limit" on the BIR's investigations. "Once we investigate, it goes on following wherever the evidence leads. We have no preconceived ideas as to what happened," she said in Filipino. "What's important is: She said she owns many things. She's the one who admitted to that, correct? So if you have a lot of things, there's no problem with that, as long as you pay your taxes."

"'Yun lang naman ho gusto namin malaman: kung nagbabayad ho sila ng tamang buwis." (That's really all we want to find out: Are they paying the right taxes?")

Lawyer Bruce Rivera, counsel for Napoles, said earlier this week that Napoles has nothing to hide and is willing to face any investigation.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has ordered an immigration lookout bulletin on Napoles and her brother, citing the gravity of the allegations against them in the P10-billion pork barrel scam and the financial capacity of the controversial businesswoman.

De Lima, who has supervision over the Bureau of Immigration, said the LBO (lookout bulleting order) against Napoles and her brother Reynald Jojo Lim was meant to ensure authorities keep track of the duo's whereabouts as parallel investigations are under way into their supposed use of funds from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers.

The Senate on Monday postponed its own inquiry into the whole controversy, which, beyond Napoles, has embroiled legislators in the potentially larger implications of an alleged conspiracy in which Napoles is a facilitator and congressmen and senators are equally beneficiaries in a kickback scheme.

Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Teofisto Guingona III said the consensus among senators at Monday's caucus was that the Senate should not preempt the work of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and other entities conducting parallel inquiries. Earlier Monday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the NBI was not yet done with its job, and still had a lot of information that it needed to validate.

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