MANILA, Philippines - Businessman Cedric Lee was brought before the Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday for the preliminary investigation of the P194.47-million tax evasion charges filed against him.
His lawyer Howard Calleja and agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) escorted Lee, who was clad in the orange shirt and walking shorts he was wearing when he was arrested in Eastern Samar on Saturday.
Calleja asked that they be given more time to submit a counter-affidavit.
Assistant State Prosecutor Stewart Allan Mariano granted the request, and gave Lee until May 8 to personally submit and subscribe to his answer. It was the second time the DOJ granted Lee an extension for filing his counter-affidavit in connection with the tax evasion case.
The first hearing was set on April 11, but Calleja sought its postponement due to Lee’s indictment in separate serious illegal detention and grave coercion cases before the Taguig City regional trial court and metropolitan trial court, respectively.
The BIR filed the case on March 27 after Lee’s firm, Izumo Contractors, allegedly evaded tax payments for four years amounting to P194.47 million.
Izumo chief operating officer John Ong and finance officer Judy Gutierrez Lee were also named respondents in the complaint. They failed to appear in yesterday’s hearing.
Izumo declared an income of P76.22 million during the three-year period but certifications secured by the BIR from the company’s clients showed it had earned more than P302.6 million, or under-declared sales by more than P226 million.
Izumo is a construction firm established in 1988. Among its clients were the local governments of Tagudin, Ilocos Sur, Butuan, Davao del Sur, Pasay City and San Juan City, and its projects include the Davao del Sur Cultural Business Center.
Apart from Izumo, Lee also owns Colossal Mining Corp., Phil-Asia Dredging and Reclamation Corp. and Waste Management Inc. based on Securities and Exchange Commission records.
Waste Management has a contract with the province of Cebu to manage their sanitary landfill.
Lee is also the managing director and shareholder of Colossal Mining, the biggest iron sand concessionaire in the Philippines.
PDRC, on the other hand, is involved in the biggest dredging operation in Cagayan River.
Caught, not surrendered
Meanwhile, contrary to Calleja’s claim, the NBI said Lee and Simeon Raz did not surrender but were arrested in Eastern Samar.
“You ran, how can you say you surrendered?” said regional director Elfren Meneses Jr., chief of NBI-National Capital Region. “When you say surrender, there is no troop movement. You will voluntarily submit yourself. His house is in Greenhills but he was arrested in Visayas, that’s very far.”
Lee and Raz were nabbed in Oras town at around 11 a.m.
Meneses said the two were spotted and monitored even before the arrest warrant was issued for the grave coercion case filed against them, but authorities waited until the release of the warrant for serious illegal detention, which is a non-bailable offense. Actor Vhong Navarro filed the complaint for the beating he received at their hands on Jan. 22.
He said Lee and Raz jumped off a wall to escape to the neighboring town of Oras when authorities cornered them at Japitan Resort Friday night, prompting the NBI to send another team Saturday morning.
“They were forced to surrender because they were facing a wall already. They did not voluntary surrender,” Meneses said. With Aie Balagtas See