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7 ex-DoF execs convicted

The Sandiganbayan has convicted seven former officials of the Department of Finance (DoF) for their involvement in the multi-million tax credit certificate (TCC) scam, the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) said yesterday.

The OMB said that in two separate decisions, the anti-graft court convicted for five counts of corruption former DoF Deputy Executive Director Uldarico Andutan, Jr., and one count each for supervising tax specialist Raul De Vera, senior tax specialist Rosanna Diala; garment division reviewer Miriam Tasarra, evaluators Gladys Olaño, Irene Magbojos and Lucila Cueto.

The criminal cases against former DoF Undersecretary Antonio Beliceña were ordered archived due to his mental condition based on the findings of the National Center for Mental Health.

Also convicted were businessmen Mukesh Uttamchandani and Olivia Demetrio of Precision Garments International (PGI); and Kuldip Singh of J.K. Apparel Manufacturing, Inc. (JKAM) and United Apparel Manufacturing, Inc. (UAM). They were sentenced from six to 10 years imprisonment.

Andutan, De Vera, Uttamchandani and Demetrio were also convicted of estafa and sentenced up to 20 years in jail and ordered to pay jointly R28.5 million to the government as civil liability.

In its resolutions, the Sandiganbayan ruled that the TCCs issued in 1997 and 1998 were granted without legal basis and despite the absence of supporting documents.

A TCC is issued to an eligible business entity which import raw materials to manufacture new products for export abroad. In some instances TCC holders sold their TCCs at discounted price to other business enterprises to settle the latter tax liabilities with the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

Ombudsman prosecutors established that Andutan and the other respondents disregarded established procedures, approving the tax claims even if the garment companies submitted mere photocopies of import, export, and bank documents. (Jun Ramirez)