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Panelo helping DOJ study cases to be filed vs Mighty

Chief presidential legal counsel Panelo, screen grab from Aksyon TV. means BUSINESS

MANILA - Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo is studying what cases the government could bring against tobacco firm Mighty Corp., accused of using fake tax stamps on its products, causing over a billion pesos in revenue loss.

Panelo said Tuesday President Duterte tasked him with helping the Department of Justice in reviewing the cases that can be built up against the company. As of now, he said, they are looking at tax evasion and use of the fake stamps.

If they are proven to have defrauded the government of at least a billion pesos, such would be tantamount to economic sabotage.

Last week, President Duterte drew controversy when he said that if he had a chance to talk to Mighty Corp. and it offers to pay the initially estimated P1.5 billion it evaded paying government, he would tell the tobacco giant to double that and it's a deal. Watchdog Action for Economic Reforms (AER) said that would mean giving Mighty a whopping 80 percent discount on what it should be made to pay back the government.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Customs has preventively suspended the import accreditation of Mighty.

That means it cannot import raw materials for making tobacco products, and cannot transact with BoC while the suspension is in effect.