Thailand Charges Philip Morris with Tax Evasion
BANGKOK—Thai prosecutors charged the Thailand subsidiary of global tobacco giantPhilip Morris International Inc. with tax evasion for allegedly under-declaring the value of cigarettes imported from the Philippines.
The Office of the Attorney General said in a statement Tuesday it has filed a complaint with a Thai court after a long-running investigation. It said Philip Morris (Thailand) Ltd. under-declared the value of 272 batches of Philippine-made Marlboro and L&M Brand cigarettes brought into the country between July 2003 and June 2006.
The total cost of all imported goods and relevant duties was more than 20 billion baht ($557 million), the statement said.
If found guilty, Philip Morris and several of its Thailand-based executives will be subject to a fine of four times of the estimated costs of the imported goods plus tax. Company executives might also face a maximum jail term of 10 years for each import, according to Prayuth Bejraguna, senior prosecutor with the Attorney General’s office.
Philip Morris (Thailand) said in a statement Monday that the company will continue to fight all the charges, which it described as “meritless” and “unjust,” and in violation of Thailand’s obligations under World Trade Organization rules that aim to create a uniform way to value goods for customs purposes.
Philip Morris “has done nothing wrong,” said Thailand manager Troy Modlin in the statement.
“Prosecuting this case will also undermine Thailand’s stated desire to revitalize its reputation in the international community as a market-based open economy that is investor friendly,” he said.