BIR sues billionaire for tax evasion

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 14 2015 03:07 PM | Updated as of Apr 15 2015 01:16 AM

Calata: Hindi ako nag-nanakaw sa gobyerno

MANILA (UPDATE) - Businessman Joseph H. Calata, once described as a self-made billionaire, is in hot water for failing to pay the correct taxes.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) filed a criminal complaint against Calata, president and CEO of publicly listed company Calata Corp., before the Department of Justice on Tuesday.

"The 346th (tax evasion) case is against Joseph H. Calata for willful attempt to evade or defeat taxes and deliberate failure to supply correct and accurate information in his income tax return (ITR) for taxable year 2011," BIR chief Kim Henares said in a press conference.

The BIR is suing Calata for a tax liability of P144.49 million for taxable year 2011.

"This company became famous because after it listed, prices (of the stocks) jumped," Henares said.

Calata Corp., which is engaged in trading of agriculture products, was listed at the Philippine Stock Exchange in 2012. It was at the center of controversy after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed complaints against 13 individuals for alleged price manipulation of its shares.

"If you look at his investment in Calata Corp., showed that he invested in 2010, he only had P600,000 investment. But in 2012, his investment became P217,699,944. If you look at his gross sales and receipts through the year 2005 and 2011, his gross sales only amounted to P2,756,533.33," Henares said.

Henares questioned the discrepancy in his investments and income.

"Pag tiningnan niyo, may discrepancy of P217 million against P2.75 million. That means where did he get the money? For you to invest, you either earned. If you have P200 million, you should have paid income tax of P100 million through the years or should have net income before tax of around P300 million... We are running after him for under declaration of his income tax," she said.

Sought for comment, Calata denied the BIR's allegations.

"I'm not guilty. Hindi po ako nag-nanakaw sa gobyerno. I don't evade taxes. I pay what is required of me. What I know is that I try to create jobs and develop agriculture. Agri is where 70 percent of Filipinos depend for their livelihood. I'm optimistic that justice will be done to me through the judicial process. In the meantime, a man is innocent until proven guilty," Calata said.