Philippines: Authorities To Re-Open Rice Smuggling Investigation

Published: 27 December 2013


Long-grain rice


The Philippine Department of Justice is planning to re-open its investigation into an alleged rice smuggling cartel led by a “David Tan,” reports GMA News. Tan is believed to have spent more than $US 135 million in the past two years bribing customs officials according to AsiaOne.

A former official from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said that David Tan has a monopoly on the rice smuggling market in the Philippines because of his links to bureau and port officials, reports AsiaOne.

“If you want to bring in rice without paying the right taxes, you have to go through him because the BOC officials deal only with him. The BOC officials do not entertain any other rice smuggler except Tan,” the anonymous source told AsiaOne.

Tan’s case, which was brought to the attention of the authorities by the Philippine Senate months ago, was originally closed because of a lack of cooperation and progress, reports GMA News.

According to the news site, Department of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said that no one from the alleged cartel was willing to testify or offer information regarding the suspected rice smuggling.

Referencing David Tan and another suspect, Danny Ngo, she said, “I think you will all agree with me that the names are quite common,” reports GMA News.

David Tan may be the same person as "Mr. T" who, along with "Big Mama" and "Ma'am T,” has also been associated with rice smuggling in the region.

According to AsiaOne, Tan gained his alleged monopoly on rice smuggling by both bribing officials and declaring rice shipments as construction materials, since they are taxed less heavily.