Neri pleads not guilty to tax evasion charges

Rappler.com
Former socio-economic planning secretary Romulo Neri pleaded not guilty on charges of tax evasion

MANILA, Philippines – Former socio-economic planning secretary Romulo Neri pleaded not guilty on charges of tax evasion.

During his arraignment at the Court of Appeals on Thursday, March 8, Neri said he is leaving it to the court to decide on the case filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) against him in 2010.

The BIR had alleged that, when Neri was president of Social Security System (SSS), a state-run pension fund, he did not declare the income or paid the taxes on some P18.3 million worth of stock dividends he received from several listed companies where he represented SSS in their boards.

The appellate court’s 3rd division has set a preliminary conference on April 12 and a pre-trial conference on April 25.

Neri was appointed SSS president during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The tax case against Neri is one of the major cases filed by the Aquino administration, which is conducting a name-and-shame campaign against alleged tax evaders.

Stock dividends

As SSS chief, Neri represented the pension fund in the board of listed companies, including Philex Mining Corp. and the Union Bank of the Philippines, among others.

During a Senate investigation on the perks and salaries of executives in government owned and controlled corporations, Neri’s P11.86 million income from the sale proceeds of stock dividends from Philex was brought up.

BIR said Neri, who was earning only P100,000.00 as SSS chief, paid only a tax of 15% on the sale of stocks and not 32% income tax rate as he was supposed to since he considered the stock dividends as his own.

BIR also cited the 495,000 Philex stocks that Neri received in May 2009 that were originally valued at P5.76 per share. Neri later sold this at P11.75.

Senators had said that Neri should have not considered the stock dividends as his own since he was only representing SSS, which had investments in Philex, on the mining firm’s board. – Rappler.com