DOJ: Gov't lost up to ₱50B over 'fake receipt' scam

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 19) — The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday said the national government lost up to ₱50 billion in a "fake receipt" scam allegedly patronized by large companies.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said for 15 years, some "ghost" companies had been running a "sophisticated" operation to manufacture fake receipts which large corporations that want to cheat on income tax payments could purchase. He said this resulted in liabilities of up to ₱50 billion, as estimated by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

"This is a systematic way of defrauding the government…These are income tax payments made with deductions, and in the deductions themselves are fake supporting documents," Remulla told the media.

"Fake receipts are a scam. It is submitted to support the itemization of deductions. These are fake receipts being submitted to pass off as deductions which is a violation of the National Internal Revenue Code and the Revised Penal Code," he added.

The National Bureau of Investigation last December raided a Quezon City condominium being used as an office and found fake receipts and sales invoices.

In March, the BIR filed criminal complaints with the DOJ against four ghost corporations linked to the alleged sale of fake receipts to large companies. Officials said the scheme led to tax liabilities of up to ₱25.5 billion for taxable years 2019 to 2021.

READ: BIR files ₱25.5 billion tax cases vs. 'ghost' corporations

Remulla added that the DOJ had 24 of the companies' computers containing details on the scheme, and the agency had recruited the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime group to investigate.

The justice secretary alleged that businessman and esports personality Bernard Chong was linked to the fake receipt scam.

"Ang alam ko [I know] he is one of the top incorporators, one of the top officers in these companies and he was mentioned by one of the witnesses [in the BIR criminal complaint] as one of the ones running the scam," Remulla said.

"He [Chong] is in the US or Canada now, he's a fugitive from justice because of the shabu case," he added.

The Court of Appeals earlier cleared the businessman of the raps which stem from a failed drug smuggling operation in 2019.

Meanwhile, Remulla said some of the largest companies in the country were patrons of the scheme. He refused to name any but hinted that some were in the food and real estate industries.

"Usually dito, 0.8% nung fixed value binabayad ng mga gumagamit ng fake receipts [those paying for the fake receipts pay 0.8% of the fixed value]. For every ₱1 million deduction, they pay ₱8,000 [to the scheme operators]," he said.