DOJ junks smuggling raps vs. Chinese traders

By Perfecto Raymundo

MANILA, (PNA) — The Dept. of Justice has dismissed the smuggling charges against several Chinese businessmen who were charged for allegedly defrauding the government of millions of duties and taxes and for mislabeling their flour products.

In an 18-page resolution signed and approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Pedrito Rances, the DOJ found no probable cause against respondents Benito Tan, Homer Wang, Sally D. Chen, Shibao Wang, Yan Ju and several others so as to warrant their indictment for large scale and syndicated smuggling, estafa, violation of the Consumers Act, violation of Tax Reform Act and violation of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines.

“[T]he complaint against respondents is hereby dismissed for lack of probable cause and/or insufficiency of evidence,” the resolution said.

Records of the case showed the Philippine National Police implemented a search warrant on Marco Polo Flour Mills, Inc. in Malinta, Valenzuela City on Dec. 10, 2010.

Some allegedly adulterated and mislabeled flour products were seized during the raid.

The respondents submitted their respective controverting evidence and vehemently denied the charges being imputed against them.

Tan and Wang denied allegations that they are incorporators, directors or officers of Marco Polo.

In the resolution, Rances, head of the Task Force on Anti-Smuggling, said the fake and falsified receipts were issued by another company known as F. Nallatan Enterprises and not by Marco Polo as erroneously perceived.

The DOJ stressed Marco Polo was still in a dry-run stage at the time of the implementation of the search warrant on Dec. 10, 2010.

“[W]e find difficulty in establishing privity of the other respondents in the commission of the alleged offenses,” the resolution said.

“From a cursory perusal of the obtaining evidence, the registered incorporators of Marco Polo are respondents Sally D. Chen, Shibao Wang, Yan Ju, Ramon P. Ong and Steve Chua. There is nothing on record, however, that would show that respondents [Tan and Homer Wang] had any participation of the business so as to warrant their inclusion as respondents, either as directors or responsible officers of the firm,” it said.

It added there was no proof on the alleged conspiracy among the respondents.

“Without necessarily giving credence to respondents’ defense that Marco Polo was in a dry-run stage or testing stage at the time of the search, respondents’ collective act of performing their defined jobs was not, per se, illegal,” it further said.