The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed a complaint against Bernard “Bren” Chong, the CEO of Bren Esports, for his alleged involvement in a major tax fraud scheme that defrauded the government of P50 billion. The NBI’s Anti-Organized and Transnational Crime Division accused Chong’s wholesale business, Brenterprise International Inc., of orchestrating the 15-year scam by creating “dummy corporations.”
The NBI’s investigation uncovered a sophisticated network of ghost suppliers, which Brenterprise allegedly used to create receipts for client companies. By manipulating the receipts, Chong’s company aimed to reduce the reported income, thus lowering the tax liability to be paid to the government. This detailed scheme is described as “input value-added tax receipt for sale” by the NBI.
The investigation, which spanned from 2008 to last year, revealed that Chong’s company operated as an organized crime group involved in nationwide tax fraud and economic sabotage. The NBI’s raid on Brenterprise’s office in Eastwood, Quezon City, led to the seizure of key evidence, including computer records, which revealed the extent of the fraudulent activities.
During the press briefing, DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla highlighted the magnitude of the scam, saying it defrauded the government of P50 billion in income tax over 15 years. The findings of the NBI show that many food and real estate businesses availed themselves of the services of Brenterprise for the production of fake receipts.
The NBI revealed that Chong’s company levied a regular fee of 0.8 percent of the total value of fictitious purchases made through ghost suppliers. In cases where an “agent” facilitates the purchase of receipts, Brenterprise may also charge a 1.5 percent fee, with 0.8 percent retained as their share. This intricate web of fraudulent transactions allowed Chong’s company to amass huge profits while avoiding due tax obligations.
It is important to note that Chong’s P50-billion tax scam is different from the infamous P10-billion pork barrel scam orchestrated by Janet Lim-Napoles, despite the use of similar dummy corporations.
According to the NBI source, Brenterprise has provided its services to more than 1,000 businesses, large and small. The generated receipts are used to increase expenses and reduce taxable income, enabling these businesses to pay less tax than owed.
Bernard Chong, whose family also owns World Balance, a well-known sports apparel brand, has been cleared by the Court of Appeals of the drug smuggling case in the Court of Appeals. However, he is now considered a fugitive from the law because he failed to return to the country, according to Secretary Remulla.
As the Department of Justice prepares for a preliminary investigation into this massive tax scam, the nation is anxiously waiting for justice to be served. The revelations surrounding the involvement of an esports CEO in such a massive financial fraud case sent shockwaves through the gaming community and beyond. The effects of this investigation are likely to go beyond the esports industry, highlighting the urgent need for stricter measures to prevent tax evasion and protect the country’s economy.