Cigarette firm owner shows up at DOJ, vows to settle tax liabilities

MANILA — Alex Wongchuking, the owner of the controversial tobacco firm Mighty Corporation on Tuesday met with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II at the Department of Justice (DOJ) will cooperate with the government to settle the tax deficiencies of the company.

Wongchuking, together with his lawyer Sigfred Fortun said that they appeared before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)on Tuesday morning and also met with Aguirre to show that they want to cooperate fully with the government.

Fortun said what they discussed with Aguirre was about the supposed excise tax deficiencies of Mighty Corp.

“It was about to appraise us about the supposed excise tax deficiency. The company has decided to cooperate fully in accordance to what Secretary Aguirre had conveyed with regards to the wishes of the President that he wanted to find out what happened to the allegedly faked excise tax stamps,” Fortun told reporters after the meeting with Aguirre.

Fortun denied that the meeting was in relation to President Duterte’s order for Wongchuking to be arrested for allegedly trying to bribe his way out of the tax evasion and smuggling accusations being hurled against him by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

“That is totally new (alleged bribe attempt). There was nothing to that effect that was discussed,’ he added.

Asked if his client is ready to pay the supposed tax deficiency, Fortun said there is ‘a process and assessment” for that but that for now, Wong Chu King is ready to cooperate with the authorities.

The company has already denied the allegations that it used fake tax stamps on its cigarettes.

In a related development, NBI spokesman Ferdinand Lavin said Wong Chu King met with NBI Director Dante Gierran where the businessman also vowed to cooperate in any probe.

But Lavin said he did not know yet the scope of the investigation.

Fortun said his client went to the NBI to show that he has nothing to hide.