Home » Customs & Trade » Potato importer charged with smuggling

THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) last week filed a P380-million smuggling suit against an importer of sliced potatoes.

Charged before the Department of Justice Thursday were Ramon Pinero, proprietor of Kool 8 Enterprises, and Ricardo Ebuna, the company’s customs broker. The case involves falsification of documents and undervaluing of imports by 62% over a 17-month period starting October 2009.

Customs commissioner Angelito Alvarez said the importer brought in 10.2 million kilos of sliced potatoes declared to have a dutiable value of $0.47 or about P20 per kilo when the approximate market price should have been P40 per kilo.

“Investigations conducted by the Run After the Smugglers Group revealed that other importers declared a per kilo value of $0.91, about P40.40, for the same sliced potatoes bought from the same source within the same period of importation,” Alvarez explained.

“When computed based on the correct value of $0.91 a kilo, the total importation value of Kool 8 would increase to P380 million for which the company should have paid VAT totaling P45.6 million,” he added.

But Kool 8 only declared a total dutiable value of P216.6 million and paid VAT of P25.9 million.

BOC said it was not enough to require Kool 8 to pay an additional P19.7 million in VAT plus penalties and surcharges since the proper restitution should be equivalent to the sum of the dutiable values of the entire 112 import entries totaling P380 million.

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