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BIR probes Bautista

By REY G. PANALIGAN

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has created a five-member panel to investigate possible tax evasion cases on the reported R1 billion undeclared wealth of Chairman Andres Bautista of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Aside from Chairman Bautista, also included in the BIR investigation are his estranged wife Patricia Paz, law school Dean Nilo Divina and his Divina law firm, Luzon Development Bank (LDB), “and other related parties.”

During yesterday’s press briefing, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay has issued BIR Special Order No. 706-2017 to officially start the probe.

The panel is composed of Regional Director Glen Geraldino of Revenue Region 8 (Makati) as head of the probe team with Regional Director Manuel Mapoy and Revenue District Officers Petronilo Fernando, Bethsheba Bautista, and Isabel Paulino as members.

“In this regard, the Coordinator is hereby authorized to call on other Revenue Officers for any assistance and to secure necessary and pertinent tax documents from any staff or office at the Bureau which may effectively help in the performance of the Team’s task,” Dulay’s special order stated.

Dulay, in a separate letter sought the assistance of the Department of Justice (DoJ) in the investigation.

“To help in the effective discharge of the team’s investigative authority, kindly furnish it, through Director Geraldino, with any and all affidavits, reports and documents which your office may deem pertinent to the tax investigation,” Dulay asked Aguirre.

In her affidavit submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) after meeting with President Duterte last month, Mrs. Bautista claimed that her husband has undeclared money in banks in 35 passbook accounts, condominium units, and interests and shares in overseas companies worth about P1 billion.

She also claimed that her husband had pay slips and checks received from Divina law firm “as commission for assisting the law firm clients with the Comelec.” The law firm has vehemently denied the accusation.

Earlier, Aguirre had ordered the NBI to probe into the allegations and coordinate with the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) on the reported bank accounts.

The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) has already started it own probe on transactions when Chairman Bautista was head of the PCGG from 2010 until his appointment to the top Comelec post in 2015.

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