BIR investigates Comelec chief, wife Patricia Bautista

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has formed a team to investigate possible tax violations of Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista, his estranged wife Patricia, and other parties involved in the exposé on the official's alleged unexplained wealth.

BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay signed on Monday, August 14, Order No 706-2017 creating a 5-man special team to probe the Bautista couple, lawyer Nilo Divina and his firm Divina Law, the Luzon Development Bank (LDB), and "other related parties."

Dulay designated Glen Geraldino of BIR Makati as the team's coordinator.

In a letter to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on August 15, Dulay asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) for copies of "any and all affidavits, reports and documents which your office may deem pertinent to the tax investigation (READ: Bautista may face charges even if settlement reached with wife – Aguirre)

BIR creates team to investigate possible tax violations of Andy & Patricia Bautista, Nilo Divina, Divina Law, Luzon Devt Bank @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/fPWfC2KRA5 — Lian Buan (@lianbuan) August 16, 2017

Parties

According to Patricia's affidavit, there are 35 LDB accounts amounting to P227 million.

The Comelec chief also allegedly has two undeclared properties – a condominium unit in Bonifacio High Street and one in California, USA. Bautista is also alleged to have investments in 3 foreign companies.

Bautista's close friend, Nilo Divina, is also implicated because according to Patricia's affidavit, her husband received commissions from the Divina Law Firm which supposedly has government clients.

Patricia accused Bautista and Divina of conspiring so that her husband could benefit from his Comelec position. (READ: LIST: Bank accounts, properties Comelec chief must explain)

Full-blown probe

Earlier, Aguirre said the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) was tapped to look into Bautista and check for any red flags during his stint as Comelec chief. (READ: Malacañang wants thorough probe into wealth claims vs Comelec chair)

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), PCGG, and BIR are all looking into the claims of Patricia that her husband has bank and real property assets amounting to nearly P1 billion.

Bautista's declared net worth for 2016 in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) is only P173 million.

One of Patricia's claims is that in 2016 – an election year – there were "almost daily" deposits to bank accounts which were always below P500,000, possibly to avoid detention by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

The Anti-Money Laundering Act sets P500,000 as the threshold amount that merits the filing of a  suspicious transaction report with the AMLC.

Aguirre is counting on the AMLC to jump in the investigation, citing an agreement between the body and the NBI.

The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) is conducting an impeachment case buildup against Bautista. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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