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Smuggling, fraud cost Philippines $33b in 2011, study says

Published on Feb 4, 2014 7:33 AM

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - More than US$410 billion (S$523 billion) in illicit money crossed the borders of the Philippines from 1960 to 2011, with customs fraud related to imported goods surging in recent years, according to a study released on Monday by a United States-based anti-graft watchdog group.

Global Financial Integrity (GFI) said a record high of US$25.8 billion came into the south-east Asian archipelago nation illegally in 2011, the most recent year for which data was available. That was up from US$22.9 billion in 2010, marking back-to-back years of record illicit inflows. About US$14.2 billion of illicit inflows was reported for 2009, the study said.

These illicit inflows are typically the result of under-reported merchandise that is shipped into the country, said GFI economist Brian LeBlanc, one of the report's authors.

"This is mostly importers trying to avoid VAT (value-added) taxes or import tariffs," Mr LeBlanc said.

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