Two executives who own the Bora Bora and Flamers retail establishments are facing 36 counts of tax evasion and illegal appropriation of public funds for failing to remit more than $1.2 million in sales and use tax money collected between 2009 and 2012, according to the findings of a joint investigation by the Puerto Rico Justice and Treasury Departments.
During a news conference Tuesday, the names of brothers Oscar Juelle-Abello and Javier Juelle-Abello, presidents of Bora Bora Inc. and On The Grill Food Corp. (parent company of Flamers), were revealed by a task force composed of staff from both agencies in charge of identifying and processing tax evaders, those who fail to pay collected sales tax, known as IVU, and employers who retain income taxes but fail to remit it to Treasury.
The $1.2 million collected but unpaid represents about two-thirds of the IVU that the companies tallied, government officials said.
The task force submitted the 36 charges for violations against a number of Internal Revenue Code articles that could carry prison terms of between eight and 15 years, without the benefit of a suspended sentence if found guilty.
“At a time when the island is facing a difficult fiscal situation, is not it fair to those who pay to tolerate the fact that so many entrepreneurs and traders illegally appropriate the money they charge consumers for the IVU,” said Justice Secretary César Miranda.
“It’s also not right, and we cannot tolerate, that they fail to comply with the procedures established by law to submit to Treasury tax money collected through their business or money withheld from their employees, their own employees, for income tax payments,” he said.
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Melba Acosta said that since January, her agency has referred 12 sales tax evasion cases to Justice, representing about $8 million in public money. Treasury has more than 100 open investigations, which could result in further referrals, and another 40 cases in advanced stages for possible filing of charges.