Thursday, December 8, 2011

CTA junks Ligots plea to defer hearing tax evasion cases

The Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) Third Division on Wednesday rejected the plea of former Armed Forces comptroller Ret. Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot, and his wife, Erlinda, to defer hearing the four courts of tax evasion charges against them.  

The Ligots requested the tax court to stop the proceedings until after the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division concludes a forfeiture case against them involving various assets Ligot allegedly amassed while in active service. 

Government wants those assets confiscated as part of the Ligots’ supposedly ill-gotten wealth.  

The case before the Sandiganbayan has a significant bearing on whether or not the tax evasion cases against the Ligots are valid, defense lawyer Emiliano Bantog has argued.  

If the properties involved in the case before anti-graft court are not owned by the Ligot couple, then the tax evasion cases will have no basis and render void the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) claims against them, Bantog added.  

However, CTA Associate Justice Amelia R. Gotangco-Manalastas pronounced in open court Wednesday that the forfeiture case does not a prejudicial matter that justifies against hearing the tax evasion charges against the Ligots. CTA neet not wait for Sandiganbayan  

Thus, the tax court need not wait for the Sandiganbayan to resolved the case before it against the couple, according to the CTA.  

The Ligots will wait for the written ruling of the court and based their motion for reconsideration on it, Bantog told reporters after the hearing.

“It was a pronouncement in open court so we do not know what the basis for the ruling was.”  

Meanwhile, the tax court reset Wednesday’s scheduled arraignment of the Ligot couple to Jan. 16, 2012 with a caveat against both defense and prosecution and that that was the last deferment on the arraignment.  

The CTA is waiting for a Department of Justice decision on the motion for reconsideration the Ligots filed on Aug. 3 questioning the validity of their indictment on four counts of tax evasion.  

DOJ Assistant State Prosecutor Stewart Allan A. Mariano said his recommendations were already submitted and is now under review.  

The DOJ and the BIR want the Ligots to pay more than P400 million in tax assessments and penalties for undeclared incomes and assets from 2001 to 2004.  

With three cases lodged with the Third Division and a fourth pending before the Second Division, the CTA has ordered prosecution to consolidate the charges to facilitate orderly proceedings.  

But Bantog said it will only confuse the proceedings because of the four-year time frame surrounding the allegations in the cases

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