BIR investigates Bamban Mayor Alice Guo, POGOs

Lian Buan

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BIR investigates Bamban Mayor Alice Guo, POGOs

HOT SEAT. Mayor Alice Leal Guo answers questions from senators during the continuation of the public hearing on the raided Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators facility in Bamban, Tarlac, on May 22, 2024.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

(1st UPDATE) Documents obtained by Rappler show that in 2023, the local BIR already flagged Guo's realty company and the 2 POGOs for failure to file tax returns

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said on Friday, June 7 that it will conduct its own investigation into embattled Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo and other “conspirators” and “entities,” potentially the mayor’s real estate company and the two raided Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) that it housed in its compound.

“Due process will be followed. If the income declared with the BIR does not match the value of the properties amassed during the same taxable years, criminal cases for tax evasion will be filed,” said BIR Commissioner Romeo Lumagui Jr in a statement on Friday.

“The same charges can be filed against conspirators and the corporate officers of the companies used to amass such wealth,” he added.

The BIR has been cooperating in the ongoing Senate investigation into Guo, her citizenship, her businesses, and her links to the POGOs raided by the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC).

Documents obtained by Rappler show that in late 2023, the local office of BIR in Tarlac already flagged Guo’s real estate company and the two POGOs for failure to file some returns. We had been asking BIR if there were any recent developments to this notice, but we have yet to receive a response.

In November 2023, the Tarlac City BIR sent a notice to Baofu Land Development Incorporated that the company “failed to file” a total of 7 tax returns: 2 for 2019, 4 for 2021, and 1 for 2023.

The notice was addressed to Baofu’s president, unnamed in the letter, but according to the company’s general information sheet in 2022 was Jack Lopez Uy. Uy took over Guo’s 50% shares of Baofu when the latter ran for mayor of Bamban that year. This means that for the 6 of the 7 unfiled returns in 2019 and 2021, Guo was still president of Baofu.

Guo was an incorporator of Baofu, alongside Lin Baoying, convicted in one of Singapore’s largest money laundering cases, and her reported lover, Zhang Ruijin, who is also facing a similar case, and a fugitive, Zhiyang Huang.

“Please be informed that your failure to file the aforesaid returns is subject to civil and criminal penalties under Section 255 of the National Revenue Code of 1997 as amended,” said the BIR notice.

On the same day in November 2023, the local BIR also notified Zun Yuan Technology Incorporated that the company failed to file 17 tax returns all from 2023. Zun Yuan is the POGO that incorporated in May 2023, or three months after the February raid on the POGO Hongsheng Gaming Technology in the same compound.

PAOCC found that Hongsheng changed its name to Zun Yuan after the February 2023 raid. Zun Yuan was raided in March 2024, which led to the discovery of links to Guo.

The documents also show that in May 2023, as Zun Yuan was being put up, the local BIR sent a notice to Hongsheng that the company also had “27 open cases” which were either late filings, or no filings, of tax returns.

“The cash, properties, and other sources of wealth shown during the Senate hearings should be substantiated with proper payment of taxes,” said Lumagui.

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.