BoC chief nixes firm’s request to lift suspension order on import license
BELEAGUERED local cigarette manufacturer, Mighty Corporation, suffered another setback after the Bureau of Customs (BoC) denied its request to lift a suspension order on its license to import thus classifying its arriving shipments as illegal and subject to seizure.
In a statement issued before the long Holy Week break, Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said he denied the appeal made by the company for the latter’s alleged failure to present documents that would specify shipments and products covered by its request for exemption.
Faeldon also stressed the purpose of the preventive suspension is to “prevent and suppress smuggling.”
The BoC last month decided to suspend the accreditation of Mighty Corporation after several raids on the firm’s various warehouses in Luzon and Mindanao yielded over P3 billion worth of cigarette products allegedly containing fake government (documentary) stamps that would indicate they did not pay any tax to the government.
Last April 3, a month following the preventive suspension of its importer’s accreditation, MC filed a motion for the temporary lifting of the suspension.
The motion was limited to “those shipments that had arrived prior to the suspension” and “those that were in transit.”
MC argued, unsuccessfully, that the shipments would deteriorate and would substantially hamper its operations. The cigarette manufacturer also committed to take steps to pay duties and taxes due on the shipments and to post a bond to cover “any damage” the government may incur as a result of the shipments’ release.
However, Faeldon supported the position of government prosecutor Danilo Campos, who had noted that while MC offered to pay the duties and taxes and to post bond for the shipments, it failed to present supporting documents, particularly the Bills of Lading (B/L).
Without the B/L, the BoC would not be able to identify and examine the shipments that MC wants to be processed or the ports where these shipments have landed.
Meanwhile, the panel of prosecutors who will handle the complaint filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on the PHP9.564-billion tax evasion suit against controversial cigarette firm Mighty Corporation is set to start the preliminary investigation on the matter.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre named Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Sebastian Caponong as chairperson of the panel with Assistant State Proseuctors Ma. Lourdes Uy and Mary Ann Parong as members who will handle the preliminary investigation aimed at determining whether Mighty officials should be charged over the unlawful act of using fake stamps on cigarette packs and evading payment of the tobacco excise tax.
“I just formed the three-member panel. “We have to make Might Corp. answer the charges first and then the BIR will reply before the case will be submitted for resolution,” he told reporters in a recent interview.
The DoJ chief said Mighty Corp. has agreed to pay the amount of P13 billion as compromise payment for its tax liabilities and penalties so that the government would no longer pursue criminal cases against the firm and its executives.
“Might Corp. is willing to pay the amount, but requested to settle it in a staggered scheme of P1 billion per payment,” Aguirre noted.
However, Aguirre said that President Duterte doesn’t like it as he wants full payment of the amount.