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Sunday, January 20, 2019

BIR to check report on gold bar trade

THE Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is looking into a letter sent by a concerned citizen accusing a Cebu businessman of trading gold bars without paying taxes.

The letter, dated Aug. 12, 2016, was addressed to BIR 13 Director Herminio Palamine and was received by his office last Aug. 15, 2016.

BIR 13 covers Cebu and Bohol only because this is not a political region, but a BIR region.

The businessman (name withheld pending investigation) reportedly has interest in precious metals and other related businesses like pawnshops, importation and distribution of pharmaceutical products, and gold trading.

The BIR informant said the businessman’s gold bars that accumulated in Visayas and Mindanao pawnshops were smuggled to Hong Kong through Mactan Cebu International Airport.

“This, I believe, is tantamount to economic sabotage as in my understanding, gold should only be sold to the BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas),” the letter writer told Palamine.

The complainant submitted to Palamine two names of persons and four names of private companies involved in the illegal exportation of gold.

He said that one of the businessmen is regularly making US$1 million to US$5 million in illegal gold trading, which can be checked by the BIR through his check transactions with HSBC (Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp.) and Metrobank using the accounts of the two persons and four companies he mentioned in his letter.

The complainant said that, in his illegal trading, the businessman organized an employees’ cooperative, which buys the “rematados” or unredeemed jewelry, but in reality, the cooperative was just a conduit and he was the one who was actually in the business.

The businessman reportedly formed the coop to avoid paying taxes to the BIR.

The complainant further said the businessman’s holding company is insolvent as indicated in its three-year audited financial statement. But the company was able to get a P250-million loan from Metrobank.

Lawyer Neri Yu, the chief of BIR 13 legal department, said the letter-complaint was first referred to the Special Investigation Division of BIR for case build-up.

However, BIR Commissioner Cesar Dulay has ordered a ban on all investigations last August pending the review of their policies.

Yu said the ban on investigations was lifted last month and the evidence- gathering and case build-up on complaints resumed.

But Yu urged the complainant to come out in the open and present evidence so they can investigate it properly.

Yu said the BIR also has a policy to hide the identity of the complainant if he is concerned about his safety and security.
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