BIR files P18-M tax evasion raps vs ex-PCSO ad manager Manuel Garcia
It was like winning the sweepstakes.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Thursday sued the former promotions manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) who allegedly pocketed P1.5 billion in kickbacks from the charity agency’s ad placements during the Arroyo administration.
BIR Commissioner Kim Henares said ex-PCSO public relations manager Manuel Garcia owed the government P18.91 million in taxes for “understating” his real taxable income from 2006 to 2010.
At a news briefing, Henares said building up the tax evasion case against Garcia was practically a breeze, likening the BIR’s gathering of evidence to hitting the jackpot in a lottery.
“In terms of the quality of the case and… evidence we presented, I would like to think that if it’s not the jackpot, it was something close to it,” Henares said before submitting the complaint for five counts of tax evasion to the Department of Justice (DoJ).
Day after hearing
The case, the BIR’s 55th tax evasion complaint since President Aquino was sworn into office a year ago, was filed a day after advertising executives Alexander Quisumbing and Ludovico Yuseco told a Senate inquiry that Garcia had received kickbacks representing 40 percent of advertising contracts approved by the PCSO board.
Citing the figures provided by Quisumbing and Yuseco, Sen. Franklin Drilon said Garcia could have received at least P1.5 billion in kickbacks.
Speaking at the Senate hearing, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile called the attention of Henares, saying: “This is a good case of giving an example.”
Case at Ombudsman
Henares said the complaint was prompted by the graft case filed by Quisumbing and Yuseco against Garcia with the Office of the Ombudsman on May 8.
“We did not even know that there would be a Senate hearing. Preparing a case is not so simple. It requires time,” Henares told reporters.
She said the BIR might file additional cases against Garcia as “we and the Senate further investigate.”
“If we could get more documents, then we can (file other cases),” she said.
Henares expressed confidence that the DoJ would immediately act on the complaint since field investigators of the BIR Run After the Tax Evaders (RATES) program were able to get hold of return checks and other certified true copies of documents showing the money deposited in Garcia’s personal accounts.
“How can you refute things that are well documented?” she pointed out.
In their complaint filed in the Office of the Ombudsman, Quisumbing and Yuseco said they were forced by Garcia to provide commissions if they wanted to obtain ad contracts from the PCSO for radio, TV and newspapers.
Garcia, of Luskot Street, Barangay Don Manuel, Quezon City, understated his gross annual income by P29.02 million from 2006 to 2010, according to Henares.
Quisumbing, the chair and CEO of Quizgem, said he gave at least P16.1 million to Garcia, while Yuseco, manager of Cross-Channel Advertising, claimed he gave the ex-PCSO official P12.61 million as a bribe.
Henares said both submitted personal checks and bank slips showing they deposited money in Garcia’s accounts.
“This is one of the rare instances… where we are able to obtain return checks as evidence. These were deposited to his own account,” Henares said.
“This is also one of the few rare times that we are able to get witnesses. Normally, corruption is a difficult thing to prove unless somebody wants to testify,” she added.
According to RATES investigators, Garcia should have paid the government P8.10 million in 2006, P3.57 million in 2007, P1.47 million in 2008, P4.56 million in 2009 and P1.21 million last year.
During the five-year period, Henares said Garcia understated his income by an average of 947 percent.
The BIR filed another tax evasion case this time against officials of Bulwagang Filipino Restaurant and the chief of the Registry of Deeds office in Manila for the alleged fraudulent transfer of the title of a property that the restaurant sold in 2008.
Henares said Marissa Timones, the head of the Registry of Deeds office in Manila, was included in the criminal complaint for “willfully aiding and abetting” the supposed anomalous land deal between the restaurant owners and Supercare Medical Services Inc. (Supercare).
She said the restaurant owners should have paid P31.71 million in income tax for the profits generated from the sale of a parcel of land that Supercare acquired.
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