The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Thursday brought to the Department of Justice (DOJ) smuggling complaints against a firm linked to suspected rice smuggler Davidson Bangayan or David Tan for the illegal importation of rice from Thailand in 2013 worth P217 million (S$6.2 million).
The BOC accused Intercontinental Grains International Trading Inc. of smuggling at least 5,400 metric tons or 5.4 million kilograms of rice through the Manila International Container Terminal and the Port of Manila between September and October of last year.
Customs records showed that Intercontinental Grains International Trading was the fifth biggest rice importer in 2013. It is also the third rice-importing firm linked to Bangayan to be slapped with a smuggling complaint; the first two are Bold Bidder and Silent Royalty.
The other two firms being linked to Bangayan are Medaglia de Oro Trading and Starcraft International Trading Corp.
According to the BOC, the five firms linked to Bangayan cornered a combined 75 per cent of the 200,000 metric tons of rice that entered various ports in the country without the required import from National Food Authority (NFA) in 2013.
Based on the complaint, Intercontinental Grains' shipments arrived in two separate occasions at the Port of Manila in September 2013 and the Manila International Container Port in October of the same year.
The shipment of 675,000 kg of rice that arrived in September 2013 had an estimated market value of P27 million and dutiable value of P10.3 million. The second shipment that arrived in October 2013 is 4.75 million kg of rice with an estimated market value of P190 million and dutiable value of P66.6 million.
Both shipments came from Thailand.
However, based on records from the NFA, the firm was allotted a total import quota of only 1,565 metric tons in 2013. The NFA also confirmed that none of the shipments of Intercontinental Grains International Trading were covered by any import permit nor were any documents filed before the agency.
"The fact that Intercontinental Grains did not bother to file a permit in the NFA and ignored the quota it was allotted signifies bad faith and a gross disregard for our laws.
These import volumes are regulated to ensure fair trade and an even playing field for our local rice industry, which firms like Intercontinental Grains ignored, to the detriment of our farmers," Customs Commissioner John Sevilla said in a statement.
Named respondents in the two separate complaints against Intercontinental Grains were the firm's proprietor Edgar Salvador, company president and chair Reginald Sihiyon, corporate secretary and director Ruperto Guilaran, treasurer and director Zarian Lanzar and board members Emma Dequilla and Apolonio Magno.
Also charged were the company's customs brokers Baltazar Ramirez and Ailene Rejuso.
They all face multiple counts of violating Section 3601 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines and Section 29 of Presidential Decree No. 4, as amended by PD 1485, which restricts rice imports to state-run NFA.
Each count of violating Section 3601 of the Tariffs and Customs Code carries a maximum punishment of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of P50,000, while violation of PD 4 is levied a maximum penalty of four years imprisonment and a fine of P8,000 per count.