VETERAN singer Claire dela Fuente was sentenced to seven years in prison by the Philippine Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) after she was found guilty of tax evasion charges involving her bus company.
The special court ruled that dela Fuente, whose real name is Clarita de Guzman, failed to make and file the income tax returns of her bus firm Philippine Corinthian Liner Corporation (PCLC) from 1998 to 2004.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) filed seven counts of tax evasion against PCLC 10 years ago.
In a 205-page ruling by Associate Justice Ma. Belen M. Ringpis-Liban dated June 30 but released Friday, July 17, the CTA said: “For each consolidated criminal case, she is sentenced to suffer the straight penalty of imprisonment of one year and ordered to pay a fine of PHP50,000 with subsidiary imprisonment, in case (the) accused has no property with which to meet such fine.”
PLCL, meanwhile, was found guilty of violating Section 255 in relation to Section 256 of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997.
It was ordered by the CTA to pay P100,000 for each of the consolidated criminal cases.
Dela Fuente, for her part, denied the charges. According to her, her company only started operating in 2005.
However, BIR presented PCLC’s records filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board, and the Land Transportation Office showing her company began operating even before 2005.
“It is without a doubt that accused dela Fuente was well-aware that operations were being conducted by PCLC, either through themselves or the smaller bus operators who were using the franchises granted exclusively to PCLC, especially since most, if not all, LTFRB (Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board) and LTO (Land Transportation Office) approvals granted to PCLC were indeed facilitated by her,” said the CTA.
“Accused dela Fuente cannot escape the consequences of being a responsible officer, agent, or employee of PCLC and must be held liable for its crimes,” it added.