BANGKOK, Jan 31, 2023 (AFP): A Thai appeal court on Tuesday ordered a reduction to a US$4 million fine imposed on tobacco giant Philip Morris for evading tax on cigarettes imported from Indonesia.
A lower court handed down the original penalty in March 2020 to the local unit of the company, which owns the Marlboro and L&M brands.
On Tuesday appeal court officials said judges had ruled the amount be lowered, with Thai customs to calculate the new fine at a later date.
The case, which began in 2017, centres on accusations the company under-declared import prices for cigarettes from Indonesia in 2002 and 2003.
The appeal court also reaffirmed a decision by the lower court to drop charges against a former Philip Morris employee.
Philip Morris Thailand branch manager Gerald Margolis welcomed the reduction in the fine but said the company maintains "our position that we have done nothing wrong".
"Over the last decade, both Thai and international authorities have reviewed (Philip Morris Thailand Ltd) import prices and we believe our customs practices have been consistent with Thai customs valuation laws and international legal requirements," Margolis said in a statement.
"We will continue to evaluate the court's decision and believe we have strong arguments for the Supreme Court to overturn the decision."
Philip Morris Thailand has previously faced legal action over allegations that it evaded hundreds of millions of dollars in import tax on cigarettes from the Philippines between 2003 and 2006.
Last year an appeal court trimmed a fine in that case from 1.2 billion baht ($36 million) to 121 million baht. - AFP