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BOC files over P3.5-B smuggling raps vs. 5 firms

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The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Thursday filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ) smuggling charges against one of the country's major importers of steel and stainless products, three companies engaged in onion smuggling and an importer of general merchandise.

Charged were the officers of Sonic Steel Industries, Inc. (Sonic) for their unlawful importation and fictitious re-exportation of cold rolled steel coils and prime cold rolled steel coils with a dutiable value of P3,526,683,682.

The respondents are Doris Ong, executive vice-president; and Bienvenido Dulce, Jr., vice-president for corporate affairs, respectively, of Sonic located at the 8th Floor of Gedisco Tower, Asuncion St., Binondo, Manila.

In a press conference, BOC Commissioner Angelito Alvarez said that Sonic had routinely declared their various importations between January and December 2010 as warehousing entries.

The Tariff and Customs Code provides that any imported material used in the manufacture of articles in bonded manufacturing warehouses are not subject to duties and taxes on condition that the finished products are re-exported to another country and that materials not used in the manufacture of said articles shall be assessed the corresponding duties and taxes.

Alvarez added that the average rejects and wastages declared by Sonic constituted an average of 40 percent of the actual quantity of steel products the company transported to their bonded manufacturing warehouses.

Others charged were the officers and brokers of three companies who tried to bring in 14 containers of onions worth P6 million, which were misdeclared as microphones and accessories.

The respondents are Harbor Speed International located at Unit 9, 2nd Floor, PYF Building, Apacible St., Ermita, Manila; Blue Harbor Commercial, Inc. located at Unit 5, 2nd Floor, PYF Building, Apacible St., Ermita, Manila; and, R.L.N.B. Trading located at 1291 Lardizabal St., Sampaloc, Manila.

Charged were Anthony Joey S. Tan, president of both Harbor Speed and Blue Harbor and his custom broker, Roger M. Permejo.

Also charged were Ruben S. Banares, general manager of R.L.N.B. and his custom broker, Diosdado G. Bagon.

Alvarez said that the 14 containers of onions were seized for being imported without the required Plant Quarantine Clearance and Import Permit from the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).

The fifth company charged Thursday was Countless Trading which regularly made importations of various products like household appliances and office equipment that were misdeclared as something else in 243 Import Entries from January to June 2010.

Although the total value of 243 import entries could go as high as P300 million, Countless Trading only declared a combined dutiable value of P29,462,564 and paid only nominal duties and taxes.

Investigations conducted by the Run After The Smugglers (RATS) Team showed that Countless Trading, owned by a certain Wenefred Soberano Saguid, appeared to exist only on paper and was only being used as a front or dummy of unscrupulous importers.

Aside from Saguid, also charged were the custom brokers of Countless Trading namely, Maximo G. Legarda, Jr.; Michael S. Valenzuela; Joselito I. Azurin; and, Aleli Arellano.

Alvarez said that the filing of the charges should convince smugglers and their cohorts in the BOC that their happy days are over.

"We will run after them and prosecute them to the full extent of the law," Alvarez added. (PNA)




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