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Chief Justice on Trial

DOJ sets prelim probe on Corona tax evasion case

September 12, 2012 12:07pm
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is set to start in two weeks its preliminary investigation on the P150-million tax evasion case filed by the Bureau on Internal Revenue (BIR) against ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona, his daughter and son-in-law.

According to the three-man panel of prosecutors, it will start probing the complaint on September 25 or two Tuesdays from now. Also named respondents in the complaint were Corona’s daughter Carla Castillo and her husband Constantino Castillo.

The prosecutors said it will be issuing a subpoena against the three so they would attend the preliminary investigation. The panel was formed last week to look into whether or not there was probable cause to charge the three respondents for allegedly evading tax duties between 2003 and 2010.

Prosecutor General Claro Arellano earlier said he assigned Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Roseanne Balauag to lead the investigation. Joining her are prosecution attorneys Roland Estepa and Javee Laurence Bandong. 

Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III said the panel has 60 days to complete its investigation and resolve the issue of probable cause. 

The BIR two weeks ago filed tax evasion charges against the three for allegedly failing to file their respective income tax returns for several years.

Avoiding payment of tax liabilities is punishable under Section 254 of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) of 1997, and failure to file returns and supply correct and accurate tax information violate Section 255 of the same code. 

According to the BIR, Corona allegedly violated the tax code in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2010, while Carla violated the code in 2010. Her husband, meanwhile, supposedly evaded taxes in 2003 and 2008, and failed to file a tax return in 2003.
The former magistrate – ousted by the Senate impeachment court in 20-3 vote last May 29 – branded the BIR move as a form of persecution that started even before his impeachment trial began in January. 

Corona was unseated for failing to declare some P200 million of wealth in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth while in public office. — Mark D. Merueñas/KBK, GMA News
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