The Philippines’ Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has shut down Great Empire Gaming and Amusement Corp. (GEGAC), one of the biggest Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) in the country, for tax violations.
BIR closed down POGO service provider GEGAC resulting to the loss of jobs for over 8,000 employees, who were mostly Chinese nationals. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez issued a statement saying “POGO service provider Great Empire Gaming and Amusement Corp (GEGAC) is being shut down for lack of registration for VAT purposes.”
Internal Revenue Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa said 2,000 of the GEGAC employees are situated in an office in Quezon City, occupying the 4th to the 19th floors of an unfinished building in Libis. While the company’s main office was registered in Subic and enjoys tax benefits, its Quezon City operations were not registered with the internal revenue bureau.
Guballa explained: “We sent them letters to comply na. We gave them due process. Nag-lapse na yung period to comply. We sent the letters as far as 2 to 3 months ago.” However, he also said: “They just have to settle the unpaid tax. And then, the closure will be lifted upon full payment.”
Under the “Oplan Kandado” program, the BIR’s Task Force Pogo also shut down the company’s satellite offices in Parañaque City and Subic Freeport, making GEGAC the first POGO service provider to be completely closed down.
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority chair and administrator Wilma Eisma confirmed that the BIR padlocked the GEGAC office at Gateway Hub.
The operations followed a meeting between Secretary Dominguez and top BIR officials led by Commissioner Ceasar Dulay on September 13. Dominguez complained about the slow collection of withholding income taxes from POGOs despite the notices issued by the BIR to collect P21.62 billion in tax liabilities.
She said: “Why don’t we start closing them down so they will answer these assessments. Those who don’t pay or respond to your assessments, clamp them down.”