Monrovia - The management of United Commodities Incorporated (UCI), a major rice importer in Liberia, says it has been wrongly accused by the Liberia Revenue Authority relating to some 56 containers released to UCI without honouring the authority’s levies.
The LRA in a statement last week charged that the containers entered Liberia, stored at APM Terminals and later released between January and March 2016 by the alleged perpetrators to UCI without the payment of customs and other revenues due Liberia.” But UCI, in a statement responding to a FrontPageAfrica inquiry said the containers in question actually belonged to another company, Westco International Incorporated. “We want to clarify that the containers in question do not belong to UCI but Westco, which is using our warehouses.” The company says it has since settled all payments to LRA and all receipts given by LRA carry Westco’s name. It is very unfortunate that someone is using this to tarnish UCI's image,” the company statement noted. UCI says the LRA is demanding payment in levies from the corporation simply because Westco International Incorporate cleared the goods from the port and placed them in portion of our warehouse that has leased to the said Westco Incorporated. UCI says it has operated within Liberia from more than nine years without any duty related problems with Liberia Custom Service. “UCI, because of her confidence in the Liberian economy has made huge investment within the Freeport of Liberia in excess of five million United States Dollars. Our corporation has no intent to carry out illegal activities that will jeopardize our investment in Liberia.” According to UCI, Westco Incorporated sometime in December 2015 leased a portion of UCI warehouse to store some commodities such as vegetable products including oil. “Regrettably, it now appears to us that Westco International Incorporated brought in 56 and placed them in the facility illegally by their failure to pay the customs duties, something we as a corporation frown upon.” Nevertheless, UCI says it remains committed to maintaining a cordial relationship it has enjoyed over the years with the Ministry of Finance and has taken the position that it will work along with the LRA to ensure that Westco International pays the short payment amount as requested by the LRA. The company says it is resolved to do this in a bid to show good faith with the LRA and also establish the fact that whatever Westco International did was not sanctioned by UCI. UCI has since the incident called upon Westco International to immediately commence the payment of the amount requested by the LRA without delay as UCI strives to remain engaged with them until the full amount is paid to government revenue.