Home » Customs & Trade » BOC revs up anti-smuggling campaign with five cases

THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) last week filed five smuggling cases before the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Customs commissioner Angelito Alvarez said the bureau's Run After The Smugglers (RATS) program has netted one of the country's major importers of steel and stainless products, three companies engaged in onion smuggling and an importer of general merchandise.

Charged before the DOJ were Sonic Steel Industries Inc executive vice-president Doris Ong and vice-president for corporate affairs Bienvenido Dulce Jr for unlawful importation and fictitious re-exportation of cold-rolled steel coils and prime cold-rolled steel coils with dutiable value of P3.526 billion.

Alvarez said Sonic routinely violated terms of its bonded warehousing privileges. As such, it should not only be asked to pay the corresponding taxes on its fraudulent importation but entire shipments with a combined dutiable value of P3,526,683,862 should have been forfeited in favor of the government.

"The Tariff and Customs Code provides that any imported material used in the manufacture of articles in bonded manufacturing warehouses are not subject to duties and taxes on condition that the finished products are re-exported to another country and that materials not used in the manufacture of said articles shall be assessed the corresponding duties and taxes," Alvarez said.

"There are documented proofs, however, that Sonic made fraudulent claims that a substantial portion of their importations turned out to be rejects and wastages and were therefore not productively used. The falsified claims were filed to justify their insignificant volume of re-exportation vis-à-vis the actual volume of steel products the company brought in over a period of one year," Alvarez explained, adding that the average rejects and wastages declared by Sonic Industries constituted an average of 40% of the actual quantity of steel products the company transported to their bonded manufacturing warehouses.

The BOC also charged officers and customs brokers of Harbor Speed International, Blue Harbor Commercial Inc, and R.L.N.B. Trading for trying to bring in 14 containers of onions worth P6 million misdeclared as microphones and accessories.

Sued were Anthony Joey S. Tan, president of both Harbor Speed International and Blue Harbor Commercial Inc, and Roger. M. Permejo, his custom broker. Also included in a separate charge sheet were Ruben S. Banares, general manager of R.L.N.B. Trading and his custom broker, Diosdado G. Bagon.

The fifth company sued was Countless Trading which misdeclared various products like household appliances and office equipment in 243 import entries from January to June last year.

While the total value of all 243 import entries could go as high as P300 million, Countless Trading only declared a combined dutiable value of P29,462,564 and paid only nominal duties and taxes.

Charged was owner Wenefred Soberano Saguid as well as custom brokers Maximo G. Legarte, Jr, Michael S. Valenzuela, Joselito I. Azurin and Aleli Arellano.

Earlier, BOC also ordered the seizure of eight container vans of stainless steel from Taiwan consigned for another steel importer Sanyo Seiki Stainless Corp.

BOC said the shipments were misdeclared as cheap, ordinary steel coils to evade the payment of correct duties and value-added taxes.

Alvarez said the stainless steel shipment – declared by the consignee as ordinary steel coil which carried zero-percent duty – has a 3% tariff amounting to about P40 million.

For the past two weeks, operatives from the BOC, Department of Finance and the National Bureau of Investigation served Customs inspection orders on two warehouses in Malabon and Tondo where huge volumes of imported metal and metal products worth at least P500 million were being kept.

Alvarez said the warehouses are reportedly being maintained by Metalex International Inc and Metal Trade Sales Co owned by a certain Benito Keh.

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