BIR tax evasion case versus Rappler ‘on shaky ground’
The Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) P133.84-million tax evasion case against Rappler Holdings Corp. (RHC) is on shaky ground, according to a securities law expert, who also acts as the legal counsel for the online news provider.
“The basis for the tax evasion case appears to be that RHC is a dealer in securities. This is farthest from the truth. RHC is a holdings company, not a dealer in securities,” said Francis Lim, comanaging partner and senior partner at Angara Abello Concepcion Regala and Cruz Law Firm.
“I have taught and practiced securities regulation for many years. It’s beyond me how the government can prove, even on a prima-facie case and much less beyond reasonable doubt, that RHC is a dealer in securities,” Lim, who was a former Philippine Stock Exchange president, said in a text message on Friday.
The Securities Regulation Code defines a securities “dealer” as any person who buys and sells securities for his/her own account in the ordinary course of business.
Based on a criminal complaint filed by the BIR at the Department of Justice, RHC together with Rappler founder and president Maria Ressa, a veteran journalist, and treasurer James Bitanga, were accused of failing to pay income tax and value added tax for what RHC earned from the issuance of Philippine depositary receipts to two foreign entities. —DORIS DUMLAO-ABADILLA
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