MANILA - The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Thursday said it will investigate businessman Cedric Lee, one of the accused in the mauling of TV host-comedian Vhong Navarro, after he claimed to own businesses involved in government procurement contracts and mining.
BIR Commissioner Kim Henares said one of Lee's business partners is Tyrone Ong, who was charged for tax evasion by the BIR in June 2012.
Henares said this gives the bureau more reason to probe Lee.
The BIR charged Ong, president of Mandaluyong City-based Enviroaire, Inc., in June 2012 for failure to pay his tax obligations in 2007 amounting to almost P184 million.
Enviroaire has supplied the Philippine National Police (PNP) with motor equipment, and is also into the emission testing business.
Ong is currently detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame after having been ordered arrested by the Sandiganbayan in August 2013 on graft and malversation charges for the fictitious repair and maintenance of V-150 armored vehicles worth P385.48 million in 2007.
The anti-graft court did not allow him and his co-accused to post bail.
Ong's company was also implicated in the PNP's alleged anomalous purchase of rubber boats and fast craft worth P200 million.
Ong was also linked to the "Eurogenerals scam" in 2008; he admitted to giving 45,000 euros, or around P3 million, to former PNP comptroller Eliseo dela Paz to buy him an expensive watch.
Dela Paz and his wife were detained for carrying the undeclared amount at the Moscow International Airport.
"Of course, it's also interesting that in a lot of [Lee's] businesses, he has, for his partners/colleagues a person we filed a tax evasion case against: Mr Tyrone Ong.'
"So it's natural, it's interesting for us to find out if he [Lee] pays the right taxes or not given the company he keeps. Naghukay ka, naghanap ka, may nakita ka. So dapat mong tignan talaga," Henares said.
The BIR will investigate transactions, contracts, and companies involving both Ong and Lee, past and present.
"Parang mag-asawa, may nakita kang isang kiss mark, siyempre mag-iimbestiga ka," Henares said.
Deniece Cornejo, who reportedly owns an online shopping store, may also be investigated for tax compliance.
"Kung meron dapat tingnan, titingnan din namin," Henares said.
Several individuals have shared incriminating information with the BIR about Lee, all of which are subject to verification, Henares said.