The five warehouses located at theSan Simon Industrial Park in San Simon, Pampanga, from where some P2billion worth of fake cigarettes were seized,were found to be leased to tobacco company Mighty Corporation (MC).
A source said the use of the warehouses started early last November.
The Bureau of Customs seized the items bearing “Marvel” and “Mighty” from the warehouses located at Block 3 Lot 19, Block 9 Lot 6 and Block 8 Lot15. Fake tax stamps were also found affixed to the boxes of cigarettes seized, Customs personnel said. One source said that one warehouse had 20,000 master cases which would have 50 reams of cigarettes each.
The raid was led by Customs team leader Cleo Dongga-as, and was made possible through a Letter of Authority signed by Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.
According to Dongga-as, the warehouses will be sealed awaiting the inspection of the Bureau of Internal Revenue on the tax stamps. Military personnel from the Office of Commissioner were assigned to guard the said warehouses.
The tax stamps should register a green light under a scanner, according to Norma del Rosario of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS). However, all the seized packs registered red lights.
Meanwhile, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) regional director Jethro Sabariaga said that the BIR has taken jurisdiction of the seized items. Sabariaga said that BIR had taken over the padlocks of the BOC.
The BIR seized also 41 master cases of cigarettes for further testing, reporting and turn over to the BIR national office. Majority of the items are still inside the warehouses.
Sabariaga said that Mighty Corporation lawyers and representatives met with the BIR during its detention of the said items, Wednesday night.
“Apparently they are claiming ownership of the items,” Sabariaga said adding that the lawyers and representatives made no denial of the authenticity of the items.
The BIR will be detaining the items for seven days before turning them over to the Large Taxpayer Service and the Commissioner of the BIR.
Sabariaga said that if it was found that all the cigarette packs are affixed with fake stamps and excise tax have not been paid, there will be criminal liability on the part of the owner. BIR had made an estimate of master cases of cigarettes at 90,000. This means that there are some 45 million boxes of cigarettes in the four warehouses.
This places the possible excise tax responsibility for the merchandise at P1.2 billion. As far as the BIR is concerned, 41 of the master cases checked did not register as authentic.
Customs operatives conducted random sampling of the said products and inspected the packs with a scanner to check the cigarette tax stamps affixed to packs.
Sabariaga said that he is saddened that there are still companies that would resort to faking BIR tax stamps. The BIR here is also conducting spot checks of fake cigarette products in Pampanga and other provinces under its jurisdiction.