Cebu tax collector ordered to return P6-M unexplained wealth

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

MANILA -- An official of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in Cebu will have to return nearly P6 million in ill-gotten wealth to the government after losing in a civil case filed by the Office of the Ombudsman.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Ombudsman said Talisay City revenue district officer Nieto Racho was found guilty of violating Republic Act 1379 or the law mandating seizure of unexplained assets.

"In case respondent (Racho) fails to return the amount of P5,793,881.39 to the State, properties of respondent with the value equivalent to said amount shall be forfeited," read the decision issued by Judge Alexander Acosta of the Cebu City Regional Trial Court branch 9.

The case stemmed from an anonymous complaint forwarded by DHYP Action Radio to the Ombudsman-Visayas, which later gathered evidence that Racho amassed assets disproportionate to his income as a government employee.

Racho declared an annual salary of P220,093.70 in his 1998 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN), and a cash-in-bank of only P15,000 in his SALN for 1999.

The Ombudsman, however, secured certifications from three banks showing that he had a total deposit of P5,793,881.39 from his six bank accounts in 1999.

Section of 2 of RA 1379 assumes a public officer or employee to have ill-gotten wealth if he has acquired an amount of property, which is "manifestly out of proportion" to his salary, other lawful income and proceeds from legitimately acquired property.

The decision stated that Racho failed to prove that he lawfully acquired the amount.

Racho was dismissed from the service on May 30, 2003 after the Ombudsman-Visayas found him guilty of falsification and dishonesty.

The penalty of dismissal from service carries with it accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office, and bar from taking civil service examinations.

In November 2012, a separate court acquitted him of the charge of falsification of public documents (SALN).

Racho is currently facing a criminal case for falsification by way of using a falsified special power of attorney. (Sunnex)

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