By Nancy Carvajal
From real estate to retail to fast food industries, over a thousand Philippine companies colluded with a firm owned by Lyka app founder Bren Chong to evade paying taxes through the use of fraudulent documents.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has likened the modus of Brenterprise International Inc. owned by fugitive entrepreneur Bren Chong to the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam exposed in 2013 involving businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles and dozens of lawmakers.
A raid of Brenterprise’s office at the Excelsior 2 condominium building in Eastwood, Quezon City yielded various fabricated commercial documents that companies use to evade taxes, such as receipts for collection and delivery.
A source familiar with the NBI’s investigation said the identities of the companies that worked with Brenterprise will be revealed after a validation process.
The NBI’s initial investigation showed that Chong’s company charges less than one percent of the “face value” of every fabricated document requested by its clients.
“Brenterprise collects .8 percent for every transaction. It may appear insignificant, but the total amount is staggering considering that they worked with over a thousand companies in a large scale tax evasion scheme,” the source said, adding that the modus has apparently been going on for 15 years.
Chong, whose father owns the sports footwear and apparel company World Balance, has been on the run since June 2021, after a Manila court issued a warrant for his arrest over his alleged involvement in the botched smuggling of P1.87-billion worth of shabu at the Manila International Container Port (MICP). He is also the owner of the Bren e-sports team.
Aside from fabricating business documents that could withstand scrutiny by the Bureau of Internal Revenue and other government agencies, the NBI learned that Brenterprise also helps companies cover their tracks when it comes to manipulation of books. It also liaises with government agents to settle concerns that clients have regarding taxes and other corporate matters.
Chong’s company is also said to offer notarial services to clients. In addition, its employees pretend to be representatives of suppliers who could answer questions regarding the business activities of companies that Brenterprise works with.
At the raid of Brenterprise’s office, NBI agents found employees who were sleeping at the condominium unit in pajamas. They had no identification cards.
“We found there were sleeping quarters for the employees at the office. Most of the workers were wearing house clothes,” the source said.
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