Philippine Daily Inquirer: Former top Shell official included in Chingkoe case: “OMBUDSMAN Simeon Marcelo has ordered the inclusion of Pacifico Cruz, former general manager of Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., as respondent in the P5.3-billion tax credit scam involving the Chingkoe group of companies.”: “Cruz… is accused of allegedly making the decision for Shell to use the allegedly fake TCCs to pay its tax liabilities…” (ShellNews.net)
By Armand N. Nocum
Oct 09, 2004
OMBUDSMAN Simeon Marcelo has ordered the inclusion of Pacifico Cruz, former general manager of Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., as respondent in the P5.3-billion tax credit scam involving the Chingkoe group of companies.
Then Ombudsman Aniano Desierto had recommended the dropping of Cruz from the graft case earlier brought before the Sandiganbayan.
Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio expressed surprise at Desierto's decision to exclude Cruz from the case.
As a result, the Sandiganbayan granted in 2001 the Ombudsman's motion, citing jurisprudence stating that a prosecutor is "under no compulsion to file a particular criminal information where he is not convinced that he has evidence to support the allegations thereof.''
But Villa-Ignacio disagrees.
"Ombudsman Marcelo wants him reinstated because Shell is among the biggest users'' of the allegedly spurious tax credit certificates (TCCs), Villa-Ignacio said.
"We are surprised by what happened,'' he said of the exclusion of Cruz, who is accused of allegedly making the decision for Shell to use the allegedly fake TCCs to pay its tax liabilities, among others.
Villa-Ignacio issued the statement amid fears that the culprits and the beneficiaries in the multi-billion tax credit scam have been allowed to get off the hook.
They noted that couple Faustino and Gloria Chingkoe have not yet been formally charged in court.
Chingkoe, chair of the Chingkoe group of companies, reportedly hatched the scam to defraud the government of billions of pesos in revenues.
A TCC serves as a proof of a company's claim for tax credits, which are granted either to exporting firms that are entitled to duty-free privileges or to those that have tax refunds.
In the case of the 11 Chingkoe companies, Faustino Chingkoe was found to have conspired with government officials to secure TCCs even if they were "not qualified or legally entitled to avail of tax credit.''
Graft charges were filed against Faustino, his brother Felix and Rosita and as well as Antonio P. Belicena, former undersecretary and executive director of the Department of Finance, Uldarico Andutan, among others, before the Sandiganbayan six years ago.
Felix used to head the company, but was unseated by Faustino in 1995. The Ombudsman recently decided to grant Felix and his wife immunity, after the latter turned state witness in the tax credit cases.