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DOJ dismisses P89M tax evasion case vs. agri-businessman Calata

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has dismissed the P89 million tax evasion case filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) against businessman Joseph Calata, president of agriculture products retailer Agri Phil Corp.

In a resolution dated February 27, the DOJ dismissed the three counts of violation of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) filed by the BIR against Calata and Agri Phil “for lack of probable cause and due to insufficiency of evidence.”

The resolution stemmed from the case filed by the BIR in October 2022 against Agri Phil and its chief Calata for a total deficiency tax liability for taxable year 2012 amounting to P88,865,738.97, inclusive of increments.

“Wherefore, the undersigned respectfully recommends that this Resolution be approved and the complaint filed by the BIR against respondents Agri Phil Corp. and Joseph Calata, for violation of Section 255 of the NIRC of 1997, as amended be dismissed for lack of probable cause and due to insufficiency of evidence,” the four-page resolution stated.

DOJ Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento approved the resolution of the case docketed as NPS No. XVI-INV-22J-00411.

The BIR complaint was filed against Calata and Agri Phil for allegedly violating Section 255 in relation to Sections 253 (d) and 256 of the NIRC or “their willful failure to pay deficiency income tax, value added tax, and expanding value added tax.”

The DOJ, however, said in its resolution that the BIR submitted only 10 sets instead of 30 sets of certified true copies of the documents that form part of the complaint.

The Justice Department said this violated Department Circular No. 005 issued on April 11, 2019 that requires the BIR and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to submit no less than 10 sets of certified true copies of the documents that form part of a complaint, which warrants outright dismissal of a complaint.

The resolution was also in line with the Department Circular No. 008 issued by Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla last February 10 directing all prosecutors to carefully assess pending criminal cases for offenses cognizable by Municipal Trial Courts (MTCs), Municipal Trial Courts in Cities (MTCCs), and Metropolitan Trial Courts (MeTCs) to decongest the courts.

“If, upon assessment by the handling prosecutor, it is determined that there is no such reasonable certainty of conviction, the said handling prosecutor is ordered to immediately file the proper motion to withdraw information,” Remulla stated in the circular. —VAL, GMA Integrated News