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Taxman joins probe of Bautista’s wealth

THE Bureau of Internal Revenue will investigate Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista following allegation made by his estranged wife Patricia that he amassed almost P1 billion in undeclared assets.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said he met on Sunday with BIR Commissioner Cesar Dulay to discuss the scope of the investigation and sharing of documents and findings of the NBI. “We need to see if there are tax liabilities based on the affidavit and documents we have gathered,” Aguirre said.

“The BIR wants to partner with us in this investigation,” he added.

The NBI, through its Anti-Fraud Division, informed Aguirre that it has already started its investigation.

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista

Based on the progress report submitted to Aguirre, the NBI has coordinated with various agencies, including the Anti-Money Laundering Council, to examine the more than 30 bank accounts mentioned by Bautista’s estranged wife Patricia.

The NBI said it asked AMLC to conduct a parallel money laundering investigation.

Last week, Patricia Bautista accused her husband of accumulating more than P1 billion in unexplained wealth in 35 bank accounts. She also mentioned of various properties and investments made by the Comelec chief.

The NBI is also coordinating with the Presidential Commission on Good Government, which Bautista previously headed from 2010 to 2015.

The NBI has also been in touch with the Office of the Ombudsman for Bautista’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth. They also coordinated with the Land Registration Authority, Land Transportation Office, Securities and Exchange Commission, Philippine Stock Exchange and various property developers.

Aguirre said the marital spat was unfortunate, “but the government has to protect public interest.”

“There is an allegation here of illegally acquired wealth and we have to know of it is true,” he said.

In an interview with GMA News, Bautista’s brother, Martin Bautista, said his family is willing to waive their bank secrecy privileges to disprove the allegations made by Patricia.

“I want to prove to the world that my brother legally earned his money before he went into government service, August of 2010,” Oklahoma-based doctor Martin Bautista told GMA News.

He arrived from the US on Saturday night.

The Bautista family had obtained a sizable amount from various investments, he said, and was ready to release copies of bank statements and deposit slips as proof.

In a separate interview with radio dzBB, Cibac party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna said lawyer Oliver Lozano should have gone to Congress, not the Office of the Ombudsman, to file his impeachment complaint against Bautista.

On Sunday, the lawyer of the anti-crime watchdog group Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption said he would file an impeachment complaint against Bautista.

In an interview with ABS-CBN, VACC lawyer Jacinto Paras said his complaint would cite the hacking of the Comelec website in January in which the personal data of millions of voters was compromised, as well as the introduction of new computer code in one of the servers used in the 2016 elections.

Paras said his complaint, drafted in November, had nothing to do with the revelations by Bautista’s wife.

Topics: Bureau of Internal Revenue , BIR , Commission on Elections , Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista , Patricia Bautista , Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II
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