Beleaguered cigarette manufacturer Mighty Corp. is facing a string of additional criminal complaints involving tax liabilities of over P27 billion for the alleged possession and use of fake internal revenue stamps, according to initial assessments made by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay has pointed out that the P9.5-billion criminal complaint it filed against Mighty last month involved only one raided warehouse in San Simon, Pampanga, which the Bureau of Customs (BOC) had found to be storing some 60,000 master cases of Mighty cigarette brands with fake tax stamps, and does not yet take into account the separate inspections done on its other facilities in General Santos City and Bulacan.
“The case we filed involving the San Simon warehouse, we estimated the amount at [over] P9 billion. Now, the Bulacan warehouse is three times bigger than the San Simon warehouse, so we’re looking at times three, about P27 billion. We used basic assessment and penalties,” Dulay told reporters in an interview earlier this week.
Dulay recalled that the BOC also did surprise inspections on a warehouse in General Santos City that yielded around 18,000 master cases of Mighty cigarettes with fake tax stamps, and the other in Bulacan, which was the biggest haul at about 160,000 master cases.
“So we’re also working on that and hopefully within the month or even earlier we can complete the documentation and the gathering of the evidence,” Dulay said.
Last March 22, the BIR filed a P9.5-billion criminal complaint against Mighty Corp. before the Department of Justice (DOJ) for unlawful possession of articles subject to excise tax without payment of the tax, and for possession of false, counterfeit, restored or altered stamps.
Dulay said the BIR is readying several sets of similar complaints against Mighty involving the warehouses in Bulacan and General Santos City and also another facility in Zamboanga.
Asked by reporters over the possibility of canceling Mighty’s license to operate given the massive number of fake tax stamps uncovered by authorities, Dulay said the BIR is “already working on that,” and noted that the Bulacan warehouse was found to be operating without a license.
“We’re looking at that possibility, cancellation of the license. To begin with, the warehouse in Bulacan, there’s no license. You have to have a license to operate that warehouse. On the manufacturing, we’re firming it up, firming up our evidence on that,” Dulay said.
On the possibility of shutting down Mighty’s operations altogether, Dulay said: “That’s a possibility. If you don’t have a license to manufacture, well, then….”
Dulay recalled that the BOC earlier cancelled Mighty Corp.’s license to import raw materials, which would constrain the company’s ability to manufacture its brands.
“You could imagine that within the next two or three months if you don’t have a license [to import], there’s no importation of raw materials, how do you manufacture your cigarettes?” Dulay stressed. (PR)