MANILA Oct 14 (Reuters) – The chairman of the Philippine unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L) denied on Thursday that it had engaged in smuggling after the government said it was seeking $567 million in back payments and penalties in a technical smuggling complaint.
“We have never, ever engaged in smuggling,” Edgardo Chua, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum chairman said in a television interview. “That’s against our business principles.”
*(So was securities fraud, but that never stopped Shell from being responsible for one of the biggest securities frauds in corporate history)
“We are one of the biggest taxpayers in the country. This charge is totally, totally, shall we say, ridiculous.”
In total, the government was seeking 24.486 billion pesos ($567 million) from Pilipinas Shell, made up of lost revenues of 2.7 billion pesos and penalties, which it said was a record claim. The charges were filed with the Department of Justice, which will investigate the claims.
The government said some officers, employees, and customs brokers of Pilipinas Shell had intentionally misclassified fuel imports between 2007 and 2009 and misdeclared imports between August 2005 and December 2008.
(Reporting by Rosemarie Francisco; Editing by John Mair)
*Comment in brackets inserted by John Donovan