Social media postings by Jeane Napoles in Los Angeles draw outrage
MANILA (AFP) – A young Philippine woman who drew outrage after posting pictures online of her lavish lifestyle including one showing her bathing in money is to be charged with tax evasion, officials said Thursday.
Jeane Napoles, whose mother is currently being investigated over one of the country’s biggest corruption scandals, earned widespread derision for her social media posts featuring flashy cars and a swanky condominium in the U.S.
“We read the newspapers. We follow the Internet. That is where we heard about her,” said Bureau of Internal Revenue chief Kim Henares.
Government investigators allege Napoles’ mother Janet, a businesswoman, helped members of the Philippine parliament embezzle 10 billion pesos ($230 million) in government funds.
Three opposition senators as well as former president Gloria Arroyo, who is in jail for election fraud and graft, are among those swept up in the investigation and could face criminal charges for misuse of funds.
The corruption scandal prompted thousands to march in the streets in massive rallies against graft.
Prior to the scandal, 23-year-old Jeane Napoles regularly took to Tumblr, Instagram and YouTube to document her high-flying lifestyle.
But after Filipino newspapers in June broke the news about her mother’s alleged links to corruption, her posts drew anger in the impoverished country where many believe a few families are enriching themselves unfairly.
Napoles deactivated her social media accounts but her photos and videos had already become viral.
Henares said the tax evasion complaint against Napoles was not linked to the corruption allegations against her mother.
The bureau cited a Los Angeles condominium that the daughter allegedly acquired for 54.73 million pesos ($1.27 million) in 2011, and a Philippine property she bought in 2012.
A student studying fashion design, the young woman had not filed any income tax returns, itself evidence of tax evasion, according to Henares.
“We have always said there is nothing wrong with being rich as long you pay the right taxes,” the official added.
Janet Napoles, her mother, was detained in August for allegedly detaining an aide who later blew the whistle on her alleged role in embezzling state funds.
Henares denied any political motive in prosecuting the daughter and said she was merely enforcing tax laws.
“Whether it is her fault or her mother’s fault, someone will go to jail,” said Henares.