Thomas Doe Nah Fail to Address the Crux of the Matter: Where are the Millions of USD and LD That Are Unaccounted For?
GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY to respond to a damning memo accompanied by an audit report detailing indicating huge sums of paid taxes not being reflected in the government consolidated revenue account, Mr. Thomas Doe-Nah, head of the Liberia Revenue Authority, did not dismiss FrontPageAfrica’s inquiry, going as far as to suggest that the document obtained by FPA was in fact, was “self-explanatory”.
MR DOE-NAH, in his exchange with FrontPageAfrica’s newsroom chief Lennart Dodoo, did not deny the existence of the memo and went on to say that he does not assign auditors. He, however, encouraged FPA to visit the LRA on Monday so that he would ask the author of the memo to explain the circumstances concerning the content of the memo.
MR. DOE WOULD later contact Mr. Dodoo to render an apology for being abusive when he was contacted. However, the newsroom chief did take notice that the LRA boss smartly deleted his WhatsApp chat messages from the inquiry made by FrontPageAfrica – that was before Mr. Dodoo, equally, smartly made a screenshot of the exchange for the record – and what has unfolded since that exchange.
IN WAKE OF the exchange between Mr. Dodoo and Mr. Doe-Nah, we are taken aback by a communication from the Acting Chief Counsel of the LRA, Cllr. Gabriel Johnson, addressed to FrontPageAfrica in which the LRA appears to the suggest that FPA was careless in its reportage and in fact that the memo and accompanying document on which the story was based had been doctored.
BY WHOM? We are open to suggestions from the LRA.
THE COMMUNICATION READS:
The Liberia Revenue Authority(LRA) has read with dismay a story carried in the Monday, November 16, 2020 edition captioned, Liberia’s Millions of Taxpayers Money Missing at Central Bank of Liberia – Auditors Discovered.
We are also concerned that this story is based on a memorandum with the subject “IA’s Report on the Audit of Direct Transfer Payment at Commercial Bank purportedly sent to the Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority(LRA). We do not know where you acquired this memorandum but from our review, the memo was doctored and is not an authentic document of the Liberia Revenue Authority.
We are disappointed and feel injured by the report which has the tendency to mislead the public and undermine our role as the principal collector of taxes and administrator of the Revenue Code. We encourage media outlets to verify or authenticate sources of information or documents purporting to be products of the LRA.
Considering the impact of your story on our reputation and the need for you to face the truth, we are inviting you to a conference on Tuesday, November 17, 2020, at 1:00 pm at the headquarters of the Liberia Revenue Authority at the ELWA junction. It is our desire to have this matter resolved amicably void of legal implications and will appreciate your entity’s cooperation.
If the Liberia Revenue Authority has any qualms about the document or our reportage of the controversy surrounding the government’s consolidated accounts; they are free to take whatever legal steps at their disposal. We stand ready for the fight. What we will not do is back down or be intimidated by anyone or any government entity, looking to arm-twist the law as a threat in a bid to shield itself from a report of such magnitude from getting in the public domain. Mr. Thomas Doe-Nah, a former advocate for transparency and accountability in Liberia, now head of the LRA, can surely relate.
FOR THE RECORD, FPA is under no obligation to reveal to anyone where it gathered the document – or who its source or sources are.
SECONDLY, IT IS LAUGHABLE FOR the LRA counsel to try to tell FPA how to carry out its journalistic responsibilities.
IN TRYING TO TELL FPA to “try to verify or authenticate sources of information or documents purporting to be products of the LRA, it appears the LRA counsel did not contact his boss, Mr. Doe-Nah prior to penning this communication to FPA.
WHO WOULD be in the best position to verify, authenticate or dismiss the so-called “Doctored” report, if not the head of the LRA?
MR. DOE-NAH, had all the opportunity in the world to address the issue. Our newsroom chief went as far as to sending a copy of the so-called “doctored” report to Mr. Doe-Nah.
IN MR. DOE-NAH’S own words, when the document was sent to him to authenticate, he told our newsroom chief: that the report was “self-explanatory”.
OUR ISSUE IS: How can the LRA counsel now come back to state come now and say it was doctored? By saying the report is “self-explanatory”, the head of the LRA indicated that the document on which the report was based was authentic.
BY DISMISSING the inquiry from FPA, Mr. Doe-Nah was in effect, throwing away a golden opportunity to address the matter. In fact, he could have said then that the report doctored but refused.
SADLY, MR. DOE-NAH, heads an institution which recently lost two of its auditors to mysterious deaths. Both Albert Peters, Assistant Commissioner for Internal Audit at the LRA and Victoria Asmah Gifty Lamah, Manager, Taxpayer Services Division, also at the LRA were reportedly working on reporters linked to the consolidate accounts at the Central Bank of Liberia.
FOR THE AGENCY’S head to waste an opportunity to address such a crucial piece of memo addressed to him and linked to two of his former staffers, whose deaths are still engulfed in public scrutiny and controversy speaks volumes.
THE FACT of the matter is that the audit in question, discovered that over the three-year period US$17,580,280.37 and L$2,346,657,844 of taxes paid into transitory accounts at various commercial banks were not remitted to the consolidated general account at the Central Bank of Liberia.
BASED ON THE ANALYSIS and evolution of commercial banks’ statements, CBL’s swift confirmation reports and comparison with revenue data in LRA’s Tax Administration System (TAS) for the period under audit, the Auditors identified the following issues:
FOR THE YEAR 2017, revenue transactions amounting to US$2,043,813.75 and LD$327,130,712.16 on commercial banks’ statements were not captured in the 2017 CBL swift confirmation reports and therefore not reflected in the government’s Consolidated General Revenue Account.
IN 2018 also, revenue transactions amounting to US$8,357,651.67 and LD$1,131,749,625.77 on commercial banks’ statements were not captured in the 2018 CBL swift confirmation reports and therefore not reflected in the government’s CGRA.
ALSO, IN 2019, revenue transactions amounting to US$14,700,701.70 and LD$887,777,506.07 on commercial banks’ statements were not captured in the 2019 CBL swift confirmation reports and therefore not reflected in GOL’s CGRA.
A SWIFT CONFIRMATION report is a confirmation report prepared by the beneficiary bank (CBL in this case) that funds have reached the beneficiary account.
THE MEMO TO MR. DOE-NAH was clear: “The Central Bank of Liberia and commercial banks need to provide explanations for these irregularities (amounts reflected on commercial banks’ statements as remittances to GOL’s Consolidated Revenue Account at CBL but not reflected in CBL’s Swift Confirmation Reports and GOL’s CGRA) for purposes of accurately, completely and reliably accounting for taxes collected on behalf of Government of Liberia in accordance with memorandum of understanding,” the Memo sent by Mr. James Kerkulah, Chief Audit Executive noted.
AGAIN, Mr. Doe-Nah failed to speak to the cogent part of the memo on Tuesday when he called a press conference at the Ministry of Information. He admitted to taxes paid into transitory accounts at the commercial banks not being reflected in the government’s consolidated general revenue account. For us, that matters the most.
INFORMATION of taxpayers’ money not being properly accounted for should catch the attention of every citizen. As head of the Liberia Revenue Authority, Mr. Doe-Nah should be providing we, the taxpayers, explanation on why our taxes – the Liberian people’s taxes – are not being deposited into the government’s consolidated general account. Taxes are not paid to end up in the private accounts of some individuals holding powerful positions or common thieves. They are meant for the development of the country, for the general good of all citizens.
SADLY, MR. DOE-NAH, prior to his ascendancy to government, led the Carter Center efforts to advance accountability, transparency, and the right of access to information.
PRIOR TO THAT, he was Co-founder and served as Executive Director of the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) and National Coordinator of the Coalition for Transparency and Accountability in Education (COTAE).
FOR A WHILE, MR. Doe-Nah was in the forefront of fighting corruption and advocating for systems that promote accountability and transparency in the public and private sectors.
AS AN OFFICIAL OF GOVERNMENT, in a crucial tax-collecting agency, it appears, Mr. Doe-Nah has forgotten his roots and advocacy and is now restoring in a poor attempt at intimidating the press and an independent media with a so-called summons to appear before the LRA.
WE WISH TO MAKE it clear to Cllr. Gabriel Johnson, legal counsel of the LRA, Mr. Thomas Doe-Nah, head of the LRA and all who are trying to scare FrontPageAfrica from getting to the bottom of the story that we have no intentions of doing so.
WE APPRECIATE the LRA’s “desire to have this matter resolved amicably void of legal implications and will appreciate your entity’s cooperation,” but we stand firm in defense of our report and the document from which it derived.
WE FOLLOWED all journalistic principles in seeking Mr. Doe-Nah’s response prior to publication. Therefore, the LRA and Mr. Doe-Nah cannot, with any serious intent claim that we made no effort to verify or authenticate the document in question.
MOST IMPORTANTY, FPA has no intentions of appearing before the LRA for anything other than payment of taxes for which we are current and in good books with the government.
IF THE LRA HAS ANY qualms about the document or our reportage, they are free to take whatever legal steps at is disposal. We stand ready for the fight. What we will not do is back down or be intimidated by anyone or any government entity, looking to arm-twist the law as a threat in a bid to shield itself from a report of such magnitude from getting in the public domain.
MR. DOE-NAH, a former advocate for transparency and accountability in Liberia, can surely relate.