DOJ ends tax probe of Mighty
The fate of the top executives of homegrown cigarette maker Mighty Corp. would be known in the next few weeks as the Department of Justice (DOJ) concluded on Tuesday the preliminary probe on the P9.6-billion tax evasion case filed against them by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
The case was one of the three criminal complaints brought by the BIR against the senior officials of the Bulacan-based cigarette firm for allegedly using spurious tax stamps on Mighty’s products to avoid payment of correct excise taxes.
Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Sebastian Caponong, the head of the DOJ panel handling the case, received the rejoinder affidavits of Mighty owner Alexander Wongchuking, president Edilberto Adan, vice president Oscar Barrientos and treasurer Ernesto Victa before terminating the hearing.
Caponong promptly denied the request of the lawyers of the BIR and Mighty seeking permission to file their respective memorandum reiterating their legal arguments as he told them that the case would be submitted for resolution.
“The filing of memorandum is discretionary on our part. As of now, we feel that we can resolve the case even if you don’t file a memorandum,” the state prosecutor said.
In their separate rejoinders, Wongchuking and his coaccused maintained their claim of innocence as they denied violating Republic Act No. 8424, or the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, which prohibits the “possession of articles subject to excise tax without payment of the tax, and false, counterfeit, restored or altered stamps.”
They also asked the three-member DOJ panel of prosecutors to dismiss the case for lack of probable cause.
Meanwhile, Caponong said the DOJ would conduct on June 8 the separate preliminary investigation on the second criminal case against the Mighty officials involving their alleged failure to pay P26.93 billion in excise taxes.
Last week, the BIR brought a third criminal complaint against Wongchuking et al., this time for their alleged failure to pay P1.39 billion in excise taxes.
“Without the appropriate motion, we will treat these cases as two separate cases,” Caponong said.
A BIR representative said the tax bureau would oppose any move to merge the criminal complaints against the senior officials of Mighty.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II earlier said he would order a consolidation of the complaints since they involved similar facts and legal issues.
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