BIR to pursue tax probe vs Coronas

By Iris Gonzales, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 04 2012 07:52 AM | Updated as of Jun 04 2012 07:15 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares has assured the people that the bureau would pursue its investigation into the tax records of the family of former chief justice Renato Corona despite the proposal of some lawmakers not to pursue other cases against the ousted chief magistrate.

“It’s not in my discretion to forgive anyone. And you don’t want your BIR commissioner to have that discretion,” Henares said last week. She has been mentioned as one of the contenders for the next chief justice.

Corona was convicted for betrayal of public trust by senator-judges last May 29 after the historic impeachment trial that lasted five months.

Henares said the BIR would use Corona’s waiver on his dollar deposits to determine the extent of his taxable income and whether or not the proper taxes were paid.

She said this is just part of the investigation that the BIR had initiated outside the impeachment trial. No tax evasion case has been filed so far against the Coronas.

Henares emphasized that the BIR would not be forgiving if anyone including the Coronas were found liable for evading taxes.

She said the government’s fiscal health would be sacrificed if the BIR would forgive delinquent taxpayers.

“What will happen to the government’s fiscal (side) if (Corona) will say sorry and you forgive him? Others will do the same and just say sorry,” Henares said.

Corona has said that he held only $2.4 million in dollar deposits and P80 million in peso deposits.

He admitted that he did not declare his dollar accounts in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) and claimed that the Foreign Currency Deposit Act allows him to keep his dollar accounts confidential.

However, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales presented a 17-page report from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) in the Senate impeachment court that showed Corona withdrew at least $3.25 million in dollar deposits starting on Dec. 12, 2011, the day he was impeached, to Dec. 22, 2011 and not just $2.4 million.

Corona’s dollar withdrawal records from Dec. 12 to Dec. 22, 2011 are as follows: $135,359 on Dec. 12 from Philippine Savings Bank, Katipunan branch; $418,193 on Dec. 12 from the Bank of the Philippine Islands San Francisco del Monte branch; $401,658 million on Dec. 13 from Allied Banking Corp. Kamias branch; $769,681 on Dec. 15 from PSBank Katipunan branch; $487,998 on Dec. 19 from Allied Bank Kamias branch; $687,433 on Dec. 19 from BPI Investment Management Inc.; and $350,000 on Dec. 22 from PSBank.

Morales said that based on the AMLC report Corona held $10 million to $12 million in dollar deposits, a matter that the former chief justice vehemently denied.

Corona accepted the verdict of the impeachment court but maintained his innocence.

He dubbed Morales’ revelation as a “lantern of lies.”