Controversial businessman Cedric Lee was cleared anew of tax evasion by the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) for the failure of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to present the original copies of the income tax return (ITR) of his company during the trial.
Also acquitted of the same offense were John Ong and Judy Lee key officials of Izumo Construction accused of underdeclaration of income tax by more than P74 million from the 2006 to 2009.
The full court affirmed the decision of its Second Division that presentation of photocopies of the ITRs was inadmissible under Section 320 of the Revised Rules of Court.
The court stated “the original documents must be produced whenever the contents are the subject of inquiry.”
It noted the BIR did not offer an explanation why it was not able to produce the documents during the trial, but presented the certified true copies of the ITRs only when it petitioned the full court to reverse the resolution of its division.
“It was too late in the day to introduce (the certified copies) as the trial has long been over,” said Associate Justice Jean Marie Bacorro-Villena who wrote the 24-page decision.
The BIR filed the tax evasion against Izumo and its officials in 2014 shortly after Lee was arrested in 2014 in connection with the mauling of television host and actor Vhong Navarro.
Subsequently, the Taguig City Municipal Court sentenced Lee and two others to three years in jail after found guilty of grave coercion. (Jun Ramirez)