MORE than a month after he sued SM Prime Holdings, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña is going after another SM Group affiliate firm, BDO Unibank, Inc.
Assisted by City Legal Officer Joseph Bernaldez, Osmeña filed a criminal complaint before the Office of the Cebu City Prosecutor against the BDO executives and board of directors.
Osmeña accused the bank officials of “other deceit”, “falsification by private individuals,” and of violating the City Tax Ordinance.
In an interview yesterday, the mayor said that the filing of criminal complaints against one branch of BDO is just the start.
“Tax evasion is a crime…I want to see how the criminal justice system works. One, first. We will start with one,” he told reporters.
The mayor said that the BDO-Magallanes St. branch in Cebu City allegedly under-declared and falsified its declaration of gross sales of P400,000 to the City Treasurer’s Office.
“They (bank officials) declared that their gross revenues for the year are P400,000. On P33,000 a month, that’s not even enough to pay the manager,” Osmeña said.
The mayor said that even a stall owner at the Carbon Public Market declared a gross revenue of more than P1 million.
Osmeña also threatened to cancel the business permits that City Hall had issued to the BDO-Magallanes branch.
Named respondents to the complaint were Teresita Sy-Coson, BDO Unibank chairwoman; Jesus Albert Jacinto, vice-chairman; Nestor Tan, president; Antonio Cotoco and Walter Wassmer, senior executive vice-presidents; the executive vice-presidents, senior vice-presidents and the bank’s directors.
In his affidavit, Osmeña said he directed City Treasurer Tessie Camarillo to evaluate the gross sales reports submitted by big taxpayers in Cebu City for 2015.
He noticed that BDO-Magallanes branch “deliberately and maliciously under-declared and falsified” its gross sales last year at P400,057. That figure appears in the branch’s business permit application for last year.
“For me, this was alarming because, by simple comparative analysis, it was highly unlikely for the government banks (DBP and Landbank) to have gross sales higher than private banks, like BDO,” said Osmeña in his affidavit.
The mayor said the city treasurer shared the view that it was impossible for a private bank to have gross sales of only P400,000.
Last Nov. 23, 2016, Osmeña also filed criminal complaints against four officials of SM Prime Holdings, Inc. for allegedly misrepresenting the size of SM Seaside City to reduce its tax obligations to the City Government, amounting to about P23 million.
In yesterday’s interview, Osmeña said that City Hall will check on all the branches of BDO to see if they declared their exact annual gross sales.
Osmeña, in his Facebook account, said that City Hall could have used the taxes from companies who failed to declare their correct dues to fund garbage collection services, complete the construction of the Cebu City Medical Center, build additional infrastructure to alleviate traffic, and help support the scholarship program.
“It’s unfair that the common worker automatically has his wages deducted for taxes while big companies cheat their way through the system by under-declaring their income. My administration will not tolerate these companies not paying their fair share as mandated by law,” he added.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 05, 2017.
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