Liberia: Employees of Finance Ministry, LRA Link To ‘Fraudulent’ Loss of US$382,000 in Taxes
Monrovia – A FrontPageAfrica investigation has uncovered that a duty-free permit given to Golden Veroleum (Liberia) has been fraudulently misused and abused by some dishonest individuals to defraud the Government of Liberia of over US$382,000 in taxes.
Report by Edwin G. Genoway, [email protected]
According to documents in the possession of FPA, GVL duty free privilege was unlawfully used to clear 10 SINO trucks and assorted spare parts from the Freeport of Monrovia belonging to the MHM EKO Liberia Inc. in January 2019.
The documents show that the duty free given to the GVL was duplicated by the MHM EKO.
The criminal use of GVL’s duty free document is currently being probed by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) and Crime Services Department of the Liberia National Police (LNP).
One person, Barry F. Tequah, an employee of the Ministry of Finance’s Duty Free Section has been arrested in connection with the alleged fraud.
Sources say Tequah received help from insiders within the LRA, who aided him by ensuring that the fake documents were never discovered during the transactions.
The names of the LRA staffs allegedly defrauding the state of resources are unkonwn. When FPA requested answers from the commission about possible action to investigate the scandal there was no response.
FrontPageAfrica has also discovered that during the investigation by the police, Tequah admitted to forging the signature of the Vice President for Strategy and Stakeholders of GVL to clear the trucks for MHM EKO Liberia.
“During our preliminary investigation with Mr. Tequah, he admitted being the one that forged the signature vice president and submitted this document to the Liberia Revenue Authority, with the intent to place our company at a disadvantage,” GVL’s communication to the DCP John G. Kemoh, Major Crime Investigation Department, LNP states.
According to another communication dated February 25, 2019, GVL complained to the Liberia National Police, Inspector General Patrick Sudue after being informed by the LRA that their (GVL) duty free privilege was fraudulently used by MHM ECO Liberia Inc. to clear their equipment.
The GVL immediately informed the police to conduct an investigation into the matter, but there has been no redress on the merit of the case so far.
FPA can confirmed that MHK EKO Liberia Inc has earlier been denied permit by the LRA, something that might have prompted the MHK to forge the GVL’s duty free privilege.
The trucks that were cleared fraudulently using GVL duty free are currently being rented and used by some concession companies in the country.
However, FrontPageAfrica has not been able to independently confirm or establish the names of the companies that are currently using the trucks.
The Ministry of Justice, in another communication, requested the Ministry of Transport to assist the ongoing investigation with names of persons or institution that own the trucks bearing: 2018 VIN#470540; 2018 VIN#470541; 2018 VIN#470542; 2018 VIN#470543 and 2018 VIN#470544.
The communication sent by the Ministry of Justice to the Transport Ministry was received by Mr. Gallow C.S. Brown, Jr. on Monday, March 26, 2019 at 3:46 pm with contact number 0770271425.
But there has been no formal response pertaining the registration of these trucks although the Ministry is the authorized institution responsible to do vehicles registration.
Investigating the abuse and violation of GVL Liberia duty free permit, the LRA Post Clearance Audit Unit disclosed that a company name MHM EKO Liberia Inc. has falsified a duty free privilege belonging to GVL after said entity was denied duty free privilege by LRA.
A Liberia Revenue Authority’s Communication to Golden Veroleum Liberia, General Manager requested a conference with the accused entity to provide clarity on the matter.
The GVL responding to a FrontPageAfrica’s inquiry expressed surprise over how their permit was being forged.
Following up on the investigation to know the company that used GVL’s duty free privilege, the Ministry of Justice wrote the Registrar General of the Liberia Business Registry to find out the actual name of the company that falsified the documents to clear 10 SINO dump trucks and assorted spare parts.
GVL had informed LRA that it did not apply for said duty free privilege thus leaving the government of Liberia to sustain financial loss.
The Busines Registrar on June 4, 2019 informed the Police that “after a diligent search and examination of the records of the LBR with respect to all instruments filed in accordance with Chapter 4 of Title 14 of the General Business Law and otherwise in respect of this business, the above company was found within the database and is deemed to be registered.”
Responding to the allegation, GVL-Liberia filed a former complaint for investigation and prosecution of multiple crimes committed against the Management of the company which according to them have negative effect on its duty free privileges as a concession company.
When contacted, The Management of GVL said it has not misused its duty free privilege to clear on behalf of any company as being alleged.
The GVL added that the issue with the fraudulent misused of the company duty free privilege was done by some individuals and the police is investigating.