BIR Brings 2 Jeeploads of Papers for Lucio Tan Tax Evasion Case Trial

Manila Bulletin, February 19, 2005 | Go to article overview
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BIR Brings 2 Jeeploads of Papers for Lucio Tan Tax Evasion Case Trial


Byline: JUN RAMIREZ

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) brought to the Marikina City Trial Court yesterday two jeeploads of documents supporting its P25-billion tax evasion charges against business tycoon Lucio Tan and 69 other officers of Fortune Tobacco and its nine marketing arms.

A joint prosecution team from the BIR and the Department of Justice submitted the documents to Judge Alex Ruiz at the start of the retrial.

The legal counsel of Tan, however, belittled the documentary evidence, saying it will not hold water because they were just duplicates or xeroxed copies. They were confident the case will be eventually dismissed because the law requires the submission of original copies and not just the authenticated documents.

Assistant Commissioner Gerry Flores said the documents consisted of original and certified true copies of sales invoices, income tax returns, financial statements, and daily production and sales reports.

The case stemmed from alleged manipulation of prices of various cigarette brands produced by Fortune, notably Hope and Winston, to reduce payment of sales and income taxes.

"We are glad to have been finally given the chance to present our evidence in the proper legal proceedings symbolizing our resolve to fight all forms of tax evasion," Deputy Commissioner for Prosecution Licerio Evangelista said.

The case was originally filed by then BIR Commissioner Liwayway Vinzons Chato in 1993, but the MTC dismissed the case after Chatos successor, the late Beethoven Rualo, withdrew the complaint, saying it was weak.

Subsequent BIR administrations protested the dismissal of the case, but the Court of Appeals sustained the MTC decision in dropping the case.

However, the Supreme Court last year reversed the CA ruling and ordered the Marikina MTC to conduct another deliberation on the tax fraud case.

The respondents were arraigned last Jan. 7.

Fortune, the flagship of Tans business empire, and its marketing arms were originally assessed to have deficiency income and business taxes amounting to P10 billion for a three-year period starting 1990. Debts ballooned to more than P25 billion, including interests and surcharges.

Meanwhile, the Makati revenue region of the BIR headed by Anselmo Adriano launched yesterday its 2005 tax campaign at the Makati Sports Complex.

The affair was highlighted by the awarding of plaques of appreciation to individual and corporate taxpayers who made substantial increases in their tax payments last year under the modified tax amnesty program called Centennial Taxpayers Recognition Program (CTRP).

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