Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. is coordinating with the National Bureau of Investigation on the investigation of an alleged “syndicate” involved in the tax informer’s reward scam.
Lawyer Victor Pangilinan, a partner at Cruz Marcelo & Pangilinan law office, claimed the syndicate involved in the rewards scam were composed of retired and incumbent personnel of the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue in conspiracy with certain private individuals.
Shell earlier wrote Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima on October 20, 2015 calling for an investigation of the alleged scam.
The Finance Department referred the matter to NBI for investigation, which issued a recent subpoena to Shell.
The Shell lawyer decried the payment of millions of pesos in informer’s reward, citing a previous fraudulent scheme perpetrated against another oil company, Chevron Philippines.
Pangilinan said the rewards scheme “now appears to be the incentive of the syndicate to fabricate liabilities against law-abiding taxpayers even when no tax is legally due.”
He said Chevron had to pay over P1 billion 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.
Pangilinan said the supposed informer in the case of Chevron allegedly collected about P200 million as reward, equivalent to 20 percent of the dutiable value of the shipments declared abandoned. The P200 million was paid out in 2010.
He said the same syndicate, emboldened by their scheme and payout in Chevron, was now after Shell to make it liable for alleged unpaid excise taxes amounting to around P7 billion in a case now pending with the Court of Tax Appeals.
Pangilinan said the principal amount, along with alleged surcharges and interests, reached at least P40 billion covering the period 2004 to 2009. He said the alleged syndicate was looking at an P8-billion reward.
He said an informant to be entitled to a reward must provide information that was instrumental in the discovery and seizure of goods not yet in the possession of the tax authorities.
He noted that in the case of Chevron, all documents relating to importations and payment of taxes were in the possession of Customs.
“The same thing is true with respect to the case involving the importations of [Shell]—all the import documents and its payment of taxes and duties are in the possession of the BoC and the BIR,” he 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? More importantly, how did such informant, especially if a private person, gain access to the records of the BoC and the BIR?” Pangilinan asked.
He added that since Shell’s alleged tax liability consisted of excise taxes, which wereinternal revenue taxes, the maximum reward should only be P1 million under Section 282 of the Internal Revenue Code.