Smuggling rap filed vs chemical firm
MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Customs (BoC) on Thursday sued executives of a chemical firm and their customs brokers for allegedly defrauding the government of some P15 million in import duties for various chemicals that they imported since 2009.
Charged for technical smuggling in violation of the Tariff and Customs Code were Cleveland Industries president Joana Soat Ing and purchasing manager Anderson Angelo Tang Sy.
Also charged were customs brokers Elmer Ordais Albis, Roela Castro Cristobal, Josefina Buragay Foraseros and several unidentified persons who allegedly facilitated the undervaluation of the company’s importations.
Gregorio Chavez, BoC deputy commissioner, said Cleveland intentionally undervalued its 48 chemical shipments by almost P110 million when it claimed that the chemicals it bought from other countries were only worth around P60.8 million.
Speaking at a news briefing, Chavez said investigators from the BoC’s Run After the Smugglers (RATS) unit discovered that Cleveland had actually imported chemicals worth more than P170 million during the same period.
He said the BoC would move for the forfeiture of the firm’s imported chemicals.
“What gave the gross undervaluation away was the discovery… that the dutiable values declared by Cleveland for most of its imported chemicals were much lower than the prevailing price of ordinary salt,” Chavez said.
RATS investigator Jose Elmer Velarde said Cleveland and its brokers fabricated sales invoices and statements of import entries to evade paying the correct taxes.
According to Velarde, the respondents made it appear that sodium cyanide was only sold for $.27 per kilogram when its prevailing market price was $1.88 per kilo.
He said the chemical importer undervalued all its imported industrial substances by more than 50 percent.
Because of the undervaluation, Cleveland paid only P8.4 million in import and value-added taxes when it should have paid P23.3 million, Chavez said.
He said Customs commissioner Lito Alvarez has already ordered the investigation of BoC employees suspected of colluding with the accused in undervaluing the imported goods.
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