Shell seeks probe of excise tax cases’ tip ‘scam’
Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. (PSPC) has called on authorities to investigate an alleged tax informer’s reward scam that the oil giant said resulted in a P7-billion excise tax case still pending at the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA).
Shell urged the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate an alleged “syndicate” composed of retired and incumbent personnel of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) that works with “certain private individuals,” said Victor M. Pangilinan, counsel for Shell and a partner at Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia law office.
Pangilinan said in a phone interview that Shell had sent a letter-complaint to Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima dated Oct. 20, 2015 asking his office to investigate the alleged scam. The DOF referred the matter to NBI for investigation.
Pangilinan, on behalf of Shell, said millions of pesos in informer’s rewards were being paid out without legal basis and appeared to have provided incentive to the alleged syndicate to fabricate liabilities against taxpayers.
Shell is facing a CTA case for alleged unpaid excise taxes worth about P7 billion. This principal amount, together with alleged surcharges and interests if included, reached at least P40 billion, and the alleged syndicate was reportedly looking at an P8-billion reward.
However, Pangilinan said an informer’s reward was not due even if Shell was held liable for alleged unpaid excise taxes, as in a 2008 case involving Chevron.
The law firm cited a supposed previous fraudulent reward scheme perpetrated against Chevron Phils., after it was directed to pay over a billion pesos in duties when its goods were declared abandoned due to its failure to file the required import entry documents within the non-extendible period of 30 days as provided by law.
The supposed informer in the case of Chevron was reportedly able to collect about P200 million as reward, equivalent to 20 percent of the dutiable value of the shipments declared abandoned.
According to Shell, the same syndicate, emboldened by their scheme and payout in Chevron, then pushed the excise tax case against Shell in 2009.
Under the law, to be entitled to a reward, the informant must provide information that is instrumental in the discovery and seizure of goods, or not yet in the possession of the tax authorities, the Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia law office said in a statement on behalf of Shell.
However, all documents relating to the Chevron importations and its payment of taxes were in the possession of the BOC, the law office said.
The same thing is true with respect to the case involving the importations of PSPC—all the import documents and its payment of taxes and duties are with BOC and the BIR, the law office said.
“If such were the case, how can an informant provide new material information based on the very same documents already in the possession of the BOC and the BIR?,” the law office said.
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