MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Customs filed Thursday a P24-billion technical smuggling case against oil giant Pilipinas Shell for intentional misclassification and misdeclaration of its various petroleum importations between August 2005 to May 2009.
Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez said the multinational company evaded the payment of correct excise and value-added taxes.
The legal action against the company listed the following as respondents: Nigel Avila, country tax manager; Brian Khriz Acosta, Carolyn Francisco, Ma. Cristina Rago and Janice delos Reyes, company employees; and Diosdado Bagon, Jorge Pascual Jr. and Mary Grace Maleon, customs brokers.
Also incldued in the charge sheet were a number of John Does and Jane Does, among them customs employees who colluded to defraud the government of much-needed revenues.
Records showed that in 52 import entries filed in 2007, 2008 and 2009, Pilipinas Shell intentionally misclassified their shipments of unleaded gasoline as tetrapropylene, which is not subject to excise tax based on Sec. 48 of the National Internal Revenue Code.
The ploy, noted Alvarez, deprived the government some P2.48 billion worth of revenues.
Alvarez said Pilipinas Shell also misdeclared importations between August 2005 and December 2008 as merely catalytic cracked gasoline or light catalytic cracked gasoline. Sale invoices issued by Shell International Eastern Trading Co. as well as the documents provided by the shipping companies described the shipments as containing unleaded premium gasoline.
The NIRC pegs the excise tax for leaded premium gasoline at P5.35 per liter of volume capacity, and unleaded premium gasoline at P4.35.
The dutiable value of all 53 entries summed up to P15.44 billion, with corresponding excise and value-added taxes totalling P2.72 billion.
The Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines states that fraudulent acts and practices could be penalized by as much as 800% surcharge.
Therefore, the BoC is demanding Pilipinas Shell to pay the sum of P24.486 billion.
This case is different from the pending tax collection case filed against the company before the Court of Tax Appeals which focuses on whether the LCCG or CCG imports of Pilipinas Shell are merely raw materials exempt from tax, or finished products.
Alvarez said the new complaint against the oil player proves that the Aquino administration is serious in its campaign against tax evasion and smuggling.