|Is||Businessperson, Financial professional, Banker, Entrepreneur|
|Birth||17 July 1934, Xiamen, Fujian, People’s Republic of China|
Lucio C. Tan, Sr. (simplified Chinese: 陈永栽; traditional Chinese: 陳永栽; pinyin: Chén Yǒngzāi born July 17, 1933) is a Chinese Filipino billionaire businessman and educator with interests in banking, airline, liquor, tobacco, real estate industries and education. In 2013, Forbes magazine listed him as the second richest billionaire from the Philippines with a net worth of $7.5 billion.
Tan was born in Amoy (now Xiamen), Fujian, China. His parents moved to the Philippines when he was a child. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the Far Eastern University in Manila. Forbes states that while in college, Tan “worked as a janitor at a tobacco factory” where he “mopped floors to pay for school”
In 1997, Forbes, in an article entitled “A report card on Asia” complained about the “considerable corruption still prevalent” in the Philippines, bolstering that claim by citing how Tan “single-handedly held up a tax reform intended to remove special privileges for local tobacco and beer producers.”
In 1998, Forbes’ reported that Tan was spending his free time “[j]ousting with the government over charges of tax evasion” and with Philippine Airlines “shareholders who tried to block his bid for the airline.”
According to January–March 1999 edition of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Solita Monsod, an economics professor at the University of the Philippines and former Economic Planning Secretary, was quoted as saying that “Lucio Tan is a role model for the worst kind of conduct as far as our national objectives are concerned. He signals that you can evade taxes and get away with it, pay the courts and get the judges to decide in your favour, get good lawyers and delay your cases. The messages that are given by the kind of treatment that he gets from the Government are the antithesis of what we need for sustainable development: an even playing field and Government intervention of the right kind.”
The Presidential Commission on Good Government (“PCGG”) originally filed a case against Tan in July 1987, and has since amended it twice, the last time being on 5 September 1991. According to the PCGG, the state is entitled to PHP 50 billion in damages and PHP 1 billion in legal expenses. In addition, the state was seeking to recover 60% of Tan’s holdings in companies that Tan held in trust for the former president Marcos – such as Fortune Tobacco, Asia Brewery, Allied Banking Corp., Foremost Farms, Himmel Industries, Grandspan Development Corp., Silangan Holdings, Dominium Realty and Construction Corp., and Shareholdings Inc. – as the PCGG alleges that they were illegally acquired by Marcos using government funds.
After filing the case in July 1987, the PCGG seized control of Tan’s companies, continuing to do so until 2006 when the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan nullified the writs of sequestration on Allied Banking Corp., Fortune Tobacco, Foremost Farms and Shareholdings Inc. The court ruled the writs had no basis as there was no prima facie proof that any of Tan’s assets were obtained illegally.
The PCGG soon afterwards filed a petition to the Supreme Court. On December 7, 2007, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the anti-graft court. The Supreme Court found no proof that Tan, his family, or his various businesses took undue advantage of their relationship with former President Marcos. Finding no factual basis for the sequestration of the stocks, the Supreme Court denied the PCGG’s petition, according to a court statement.
In an April 29, 2009, letter filed at the anti-graft court, the PCGG announced that it is “resting its case” and terminating its presentation of evidence in the PHP 51 billion lawsuit. This, the report said, came as a surprise as government lawyers had earlier insisted in court that they still have several key witnesses, including former First Lady Imelda Marcos.
Nevertheless, questions remain. During the Estrada presidency, “It came to the point that I was wondering whether they were lawyering for us or for Fortune Tobacco”, said former Internal Revenue Commissioner Liwayway Vinzons Chato. Chato was also cited as saying that a folder of documents containing important evidence against Fortune had mysteriously disappeared. Eventually she was able to create a case against Tan, which she lost at the Court of Tax Appeals, as one of BIR’s lawyers assigned to the Solicitor General was, according to Chato, “arguing the case for Fortune and we were sold out”.
The same article also said that one of the three judges who ruled in favour of Fortune Tobacco was Manuel Gruba, the brother of Lily Gruba, one of Tan’s lawyers in the case. It was later rumoured, the article said, that President Estrada allowed Tan to name the new BIR Commissioner to replace Chato. Beethoven Rualo, a close associate of Tan, was eventually chosen for the role. Within five months of Rualo’s appointment, two tax evasion charges against Tan’s firms that Chato had been pursuing – one against Allied Bank for PHP 338 million, and another against Fortune Tobacco for PHP 8 billion – were reduced to zero and PHP 5 million respectively.