^

Headlines

Customs lawyer nabbed for bribery

The Philippine Star

A ranking Customs official and two Indian nationals were arrested after government agents caught them colluding to release seized goods, the head of the presidential anti-smuggling task force said yesterday.

Task Force Aduana chief Lt. Gen. Jose Calimlim said the three were arrested in an entrapment operation late Wednesday at the Harbor View restaurant at Rizal Park in Manila.

Calimlim said lawyer Redentor Somera of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) legal division accepted a bribe of P600,000 from Murli Tejoomal Mohnani, 44, and Kumar Rupchand Khiatani, 42.

President Estrada ordered yesterday the automatic dismissal of the Customs lawyer.

"Sibak agad siya (He is automatically dismissed)," the President said.

Mr. Estrada, in his strongest message against smugglers, warned the other day that their days were numbered.

Calimlim said another lawyer, Ronnie Silvestre, head of the Customs law department, was also involved in the aborted illegal transaction.

He said the two Indian nationals, who are also suspected to be undocumented aliens, were arranging for the release of seized smuggled appliances and electronic goods worth P200 million from a Customs warehouse.

"All suspects have been informed of their rights and the reason for their arrest as provided for by the law," he said

Somera was assigned to the seizure case filed by Task Force Aduana against the two men's accomplices, who owned the warehouse that yielded the smuggled goods.

After the seizure case was filed with the BOC on Jan. 20, Somera allegedly approached a task force agent, and invited him to the office of Silvestre.

The two lawyers, Calimlim said, tried to convince the Aduana agent "to cooperate with them in the withdrawal of the complaint."

"It was then that we hatched a plan to entrap the suspects," the task force chief said. "We proceeded with the operation after securing permission from President Estrada and Customs Commissioner Ramon Farolan."

He said the task force agent posed as a willing accomplice in several meetings between Somera and the Indian nationals.

The agent learned that prior to Wednesday's payoff, Somera had already received an initial P300,000.

The lawyer will be charged with violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. --

ANTI-GRAFT AND CORRUPT

CALIMLIM

HARBOR VIEW

JOSE CALIMLIM

KUMAR RUPCHAND KHIATANI

MR. ESTRADA

MURLI TEJOOMAL MOHNANI

PRACTICES ACT

SOMERA

TASK FORCE ADUANA

Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with