PH to run after Napoles properties abroad
Both Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) commissioner Kim Henares on Thursday confirmed that the Philippine government are now coordinating with foreign government agencies in tracing all the assets of Napoles overseas.
“Our next target is to run after those assets. We are availing of existing mechanisms,” she told reporters in an ambush interview.
In a separate press conference at the Department of Justice, Henares said that their investigation in the supposed properties of Napoles in the United States had already started.
The BIR, according to Henares, wanted to verify the claim of the pork barrel whistleblowers that Napoles, tagged in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam, had offshore accounts, including some in the US, according to an insider privy to the ongoing, fact-finding probe on the controversy.
It woulc be recalled that the whistleblower, citing documents, alleged that Napoles has money stashed in the US banks while her brother Reynald Lim, has an account at the Bank of America in San Diego, California. A certain Jose Lim, meanwhile, has an account at Wells Fargo in Pasadena, California.
Another account at Wells Fargo in Orange County allegedly belongs to Western Investment Corp., a company said to be owned by the Napoles family.
The Napoleses, according to the witnesses, were able to purchase a hotel in California worth $7 million and a $2 million unit at the Ritz Carlton in Los Angeles.
“Madali lang i-check ang foreign properties ng mga Napoles. We are coordinating with foreign government kasi sa foreign government, pati bank accounts ay pwede namin makuha dito,” Henares said.
“Kukuha lang kami ng information. If she has a business abroad, mas malaki ang problema niya because the US tax you in a global manner,” she added.
As for her properties in the Philippines, Henares admitted that “many” of the properties and assets of detained businesswoman and her family reported in the media turned out to be not under their names.
“Marami [properties] hindi nag-match. We’re trying to find out sino ba mga may-ari nito, kung kaya ba ng income nila, kung nagbayad ba sila ng taxes… I’m not saying magnanakaw siya (Napoles), pero kung gagawa ako ng isang [illegal] bagay, siyempre I will hide my tracks. Maaring natago niya pero sa kayabangan nila, kaya lumalabas,” Henares said.
However, the BIR chief said that they are still pursuing its investigation into these properties and assets.
Henares said that apart from the bureau’s primary concern which is to determine if there was any evasion of payment of taxes on these properties, the possibility that dummies may have been used by the Napoleses cannot be ruled out.
Properties named after Napoles’ minor and legal age children are also part of the BIR probe, she said.
“If not of age, [properties] must be a donation. So nagbayad ba ng donor’s tax? If of age, then it must be income. Kaya ba ng income o may hindi naireport?” Henares said.
Properties allegedly inherited by Napoles, the alleged multi-billion peso pork barrel scam architect, will also be checked for proper payment of inheritance taxes, as well as the family’s properties abroad.
In short, there will be a cross-matching of these assets and properties, payment of taxes, and declared income, Henares clarified.
Letters of Authority have been sent out to the Napoleses in connection with the BIR’s probe. The BIR is also coordinating with other government agencies in zeroing in on all the family’s assets.