BIR official dismissed over unexplained wealth

Posted at 03/31/14 11:17 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A high-ranking Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) official has been dismissed over unexplained wealth.

In a statement, the Department of Finance's anti-corruption arm Revenue Integrity Protection Service (DOF-RIPS) said BIR assistant commissioner of financial and administrative services Zenaida B. Chang was found guilty by the Office of the Ombudsman for Serious Dishonesty and Gross Neglect of Duty.

The Ombudsman found Chang, who was in charge of BIR's budget and procurement, had acquired significant and substantial properties and assets such as house and lots and vehicles. Among her properties were 3 houses and lots in Felville Subdivision, 3 lots in Goldridge Estate, 2 lots in Felville Subdivision, 2 lots in New Intramuros, 2 Pajeros, a Mercedes Benz MB-100, Mitsubishi L-300, a Toyota Revo and Toyota Altis.

However, Chang and her husband's total annual net income in 2009 was P933,874.

"Construing spouses Chang’s acquisitions vis-à-vis their legitimate fixed incomes as of 1997, there is reason to believe that respondent Chang has consistently under declared her and her husband’s true net worth to conceal their real wealth and hide the dubious nature of the undeclared sources of their disposable funds," the Ombudsman's decision said.

The Ombudsman did not find the spouses Chang's defense that they had obtained loans from various creditors to support the acquisitions.

"Such defense would have been tenable if the couple’s net worth remained unchanged as the increase in assets would have been offset by the debts payable. The defense of respondent’s availment of ‘pay-when-able’ from liberal personal creditors is a matter too tenuous to believe considering their consistent spike in net worth despite the presence of these supposed personal loans," it noted.

Chang began working at the BIR in 1987 as a revenue document processor with a salary of P18,636 per annum. Before she moved to the BIR, she was a chief accountant at the Professional Regulation Commission in 1974 with an annual salary of P30,636.

The Ombudsman also issued a joint resolution recommending the filing of 8 counts of perjury against Chang for falsely declaring her yearly net worth in her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth for the years 2000 to 2007.

The resolution also recommended the filing of forfeiture proceedings against Chang for her unexplained wealth.

Chang’s dismissal from the service, which takes effect immediately, includes the cancellation of her eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification for reemployment in the government service.