Shell cleared of P1.3-B tax liability
Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. yesterday celebrated the rule of law in the country as the Supreme Court upheld its decision to reverse a ruling of the Court of Appeals, relieving the oil giant of P1.36 billion in tax liabilities.
“We welcome the finality of the positive decision issued by the Supreme Court in the abandonment case involving the Bureau of Customs (BOC),” Shell told the Inquirer.
“(Shell) extols the rule of law in the country as it continues to work hand in hand with the government as part of its commitment to nation-building,” the company added.
In a report to the Philippine Stock Exchange, the oil refiner said it was “in the process of reversing the provisions” made for P1.36 billion.
The oil firm said it received on July 17 a copy of the Supreme Court’s resolution denying the Bureau of Custom’s motion for reconsideration of the court’s Dec. 5, 2016 ruling that cleared Shell of charges of fraud.
The Court of Appeals en banc, in a May 2010 decision and a February 2011 resolution, found that Pilipinas Shell had abandoned imported crude oil with a dutiable value of P936.9 million and ordered the company to pay such amount plus interest of 6 percent yearly until fully paid.
The goods involved were part of Shell’s crude importation in 1996.
The high court ruled that the BOC had failed to present evidence to back its claim that Shell had acted in a fraudulent manner.
“At best, the allegation of fraud on the part of Pilipinas Shell is mere conjecture and purely speculative,” the court said. “Settled is the rule that a court cannot rely on speculations, conjectures or guesswork, but must depend upon competent proof and on the basis of the best evidence obtainable under the circumstances.”
Shell noted that the Supreme Court also held that there could be no automatic abandonment without prior notice required under Section 1801 of the Tariff and Customs Code.
In its December ruling, the high court found that Shell filed its Import Entry and Internal Revenue Declaration (IEIRD) and paid the remaining customs duties for the shipment on May 23, 1996.
Four years later in August 2000, Shell received a demand letter from the Customs district collector of Batangas for the alleged unpaid duties covering the shipment.
A year later in October 2001, Shell received another demand letter from the BOC seeking to collect P936.9 million—the entire dutiable value—on the same shipment.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.