MANILA, Philippines — Boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao said Monday a tax suit filed by the Philippine government had caused him millions of dollars in endorsements, and vowed to fight it out in court.
Pacquiao, one of the world’s richest athletes, said the case filed against him by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for ignoring an order to submit records of his earnings smacked of harassment.
“Why the BIR singled me out smacks of bad faith designed to tarnish my reputation. In just one instance, the BIR has tarnished my name,” Pacquiao, 33, told reporters.
“I shall rise to the occasion and I shall fight this case until the last and final round. We will fight,” he said while being flanked by lawyers.
The BIR last month filed a criminal case against the eight time world champion for failing to submit proper documents about his earnings.
If found guilty, he could face up to two years in jail.
Pacquiao said his lawyers were preparing to file a counter-suit against a local tax official in his home province, and possibly against higher BIR officials he did not name in the capital Manila.
Pacquiao refused to elaborate when pressed why he thought he was being harassed, and called on Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to sack those behind the tax case.
His tax woes are the latest colourful event in Pacquiao’s career, which he hinted last week was nearing an end because God had told him to retire soon.
He claimed to have dropped all his vices, including wild partying and gambling to become a more vocal advocate of Christianity.
Seen as the world’s best pound for pound boxer, Pacquiao, also a politician, declared assets at the end of 2010 at 1.13 billion pesos ($26.3 million) and no liabilities, making him the country’s wealthiest member of parliament.
Forbes.com magazine estimated he spent $7 million in his election campaign in 2010 while also earning $35 million for his two fights against Joshua Clottey and Miguel Cotto.