DOJ Finds Probable Cause to Indict Maria Ressa, Rappler & Baladiang for Tax Evasion Case

The Department of Justice finds probable cause to cause indict one of the country's most vocal critic of the Duterte administration, Maria Ressa and her company Rappler Holdings Corporation (RHC), the firm that created the online news site Rappler.

Aside from Rappler President Maria Ressa and the holdings company of Rappler, the RHC, also implicated in the case is its independent Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Noel A. Baladiang for defying the National Internal Revenue Code of the Philippines.

In an official statement released to the media, DOJ Undersecretary Mark Perete asserted that a resolution was crafted in October 2, 2018 by the National Prosecution Service (NPS) alongside the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in its criminal complaint vs. Maria Ressa and Rappler Holdings for "willfull attempt  to evade or defeat tax and willful failure to supply correct and accurate information,” – based on the information under Sections 254 and 255 of the Tax Code.

Assistant Prosecutor Zenmar J.L. Machacon-Caparros penned the resolution as he stated that RHC "acted as middleman" in purchasing Rappler Inc.'s Shares of Stocks for the objective of buying all the unsold shares by utilizing its Philippine Depository Receipts (PDRs) to both NBM Rappler L.P. (NBM Rappler) and Omidyar Network Find LLC (Omidyar) for resale.

The DOJ also noted in a statement that, a PDR, is a security which grants the holder the right to the delivery or sale of the underlying shares of stock. It derives its value from an underlying asset. As such, its value depends on the value of its underlying asset – which is the shares of stock of a corporation.

According to BIR findings and allegations RHC earned a total of approximately P 162.5 Million on several occasions between 2014 – 2015 by purchasing common shares from Rappler, Inc. at P 1.00 per share equivalent to 119,434, 438. Consequently, RHC issued such PDRs vs majority of the RI Shares it gave to NBM Rappler and Omidyar for a total of P 181.6 Million. The firm allegedly FAILED to declare such earnings in its Tax Return.

Aside from Maria Ressa and CPA Noel Baladiang, RHC Treasurer James Bitanga was initially involved in the original complaint in March filed by BIR with the DOJ but he was immediately 'dropped' upon learning that he was ""was an inactive and nominal treasurer who did not participate in the management and operations of RHC," based from Maria Ressa’s declaration.

The Securitie and Exchange Commission (SEC) maintained that the PDRs used by Rappler gave Omidyar Network, an American investment firm owned by eBay Founder Pierre Omidyar, the purchasing power to control over Rappler, which violated the constitutional ban on Foreign ownership of media companies in the Philippines.

Those were the same PDRs that led the SEC to revoke Rappler Inc.’s License to Operate in January this year. In its complaint, SEC stated that Rappler Inc. "intentionally created an elaborate scheme" to justify the receipt of over a $1 million from a foreign investor, Omidyar Network (ON).

Source: PTV FB Page

DOJ Finds Probable Cause to Indict Maria Ressa, Rappler & Baladiang for Tax Evasion Case DOJ Finds Probable Cause to Indict Maria Ressa, Rappler & Baladiang for Tax Evasion Case Reviewed by Phil Newsome on November 09, 2018 Rating: 5
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