Tax evasion raps filed vs firm in PNP chopper scam

Posted at 07/05/12 12:07 PM

MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) - The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) filed tax evasion charges against the sole proprietor of Manila Aerospace Products Trading (MAPTRA) whose company Manila Aerospace Products Trading Corp. (MAPTRA Corp.) was involved in the alleged anomalous sale of two second-hand Robinson R-44 Raven I helicopters to the Philippine National Police (PNP) in 2009.

The alleged questionable transaction implicated then First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo who allegedly ordered the sale of the second-hand choppers to the PNP.

Charged was Hilario De Vera for an alleged tax deficiency for 2009 of P9.83 million, inclusive of surcharges and interests.

The helicopters, which were sold for the price of brand new, were purchased by the PNP for P104,985,000. The negotiated procurement was overpriced by at least P34.63 million, according to the Office of the Ombudsman when it filed criminal charges in June against former PNP Chief Jesus Verzosa and several others.

BIR Commissioner Kim Henares bared that De Vera received income payments amounting to P20.56 million in 2009 from ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp.(P17.07 million), Ayala Aviation Corp. (P65,296), Crystal Sugar (P0.24 million), KMC Realty Corp. (P0.30 million), SM Land, Inc. (P0.54 million), Star Borne Chartering Corp. (P1.12 million), Fieldtech Asia, Inc. P1.19 million), and South East Asia Airlines, Inc. (P45,357). However, Henares said De Vera declared total income payments for the said year amounting to P9.56 million only, constituting an underdeclaration of more than 30% which is enough to establish "prima facie evidence of fraud tantamount to tax evasion."

De Vera was filed a separate complaint, along with MAPTRA Corp., as its managing head, for willful attempt to evade or defeat tax and file value-added tax (VAT) returns for 2009 and 2010, failure to issue duly-registered receipts or sales or commercial invoices, and "unlawful pursuit of business" in 2009 and 2010 still in connection with the controversial chopper deal.

The supply contract, supplemental supply contract, disbursement vouchers and official receipts (OR) secured by the BIR from the Commission on Audit (COA) reportedly showed that MAPTRA Corp. received from the PNP P49.68 million in Nov. 2009 and another P49.68 million in Mar. 2010, or a total of P99.36 million for the sale of 1 fully equipped and 2 standard Light Police Operational Helicopters. Henares said MAPTRA Corp. failed to file its income tax returns (ITR) for 2009 and 2010 and failed to declare these income payments and pay the corresponding taxes.

MAPTRA Corp. was also found to have registered with the BIR only on Oct. 21, 2011 in spite of its incorporation in June 2009, and despite having already transacted business with the PNP in July 2009 for the sale of 3 helicopters. MAPTRA Corp. is liable for unlawful pursuit of business, Henares said.

MAPTRA Corp. was also charged for failure to issue duly registered ORs or sales or commercial invoices since the receipts it issued for the subject sale allegedly belonged to Manila Aerospace Products Trading, a single proprietorship owned by De Vera. Thus, De Vera "willfully aided and abetted MAPTRA Corp." in pursuing business unlawfully.

MAPTRA Corp. was assesssed a total tax deficiency for 2009 and 2010 in the amount of P68.51 million.

The cases against De Vera and MAPTRA Corp and De Vera are the 113th and 114th filed by the BIR's Run After Tax Evaders (RATE) program under the Aquino administration.