Liberia Revenue Authority Commissioner General Contradicts Himself Regarding Knowledge of Controversial Audit Memo on Consolidated Accounts

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MONROVIA – When the Commissioner-General of the Liberia Revenue Authority, Mr. Thomas Doe Nah was contacted by FrontPageAfrica for comments on the internal memo indicating huge sums of paid taxes not being reflected in the government consolidated revenue account, a copy of the memo in possession of FrontPageAfrica was sent to him. He did not say it was fake, he urged FrontPageAfrica to read it carefully because it was self-explanatory.


Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]


However, the Liberia Revenue Authority’s Acting Chief Legal Counsel, Gabriel Johnson, on Monday wrote FrontPageAfrica stating that the memo on which the publication was based was doctored and did not emanate from the Liberia Revenue Authority.

He wrote:

The Managing Editor

FrontPageAfrica News

Monrovia, Liberia

Compliments of our esteem!

The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) has read with dismay a story carried in the Monday, November 16, 2020 edition captioned, “Liberia: 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 Payments 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.

Kind regards,

Gabriel Johnson

Acting Chief Counsel

Coverup in the Glare

“Look Lennart, read that memo because it is self-explanatory and I don’t assign people to audits. Is there anything in that audit that I who requested it would want to hide?”

– Thomas Doe Nah, Commissioner General, Liberia Revenue Authority

FrontPageAfrica had contacted the Commissioner General of the LRA via WhatsApp Messenger for comments on the memo. A copy of the memo now being referred to as “doctored” was shared with him and he commented on it.  

Mr. Nah was also quizzed whether or not Mr. Albert Peters, the former Assistant Commissioner for Audit, was auditing the revenue accounts at the Central Bank prior to his mysterious demise.

In response, Mr. Nah wrote: “Look Lennart, read that memo because it is self-explanatory and I don’t assign people to audits. Is there anything in that audit that I who requested it would want to hide?”

In a follow-up telephone call, Mr. Nah encouraged urged this reporter to visit the LRA head offices as he was going to ensure that this reporter met with Mr. James Kerkulah, from whom the memo emanated so he could provide further explanation regarding the audit.

From his response, FrontPageAfrica deduced that not only is the memo authentic, but he also commissioned the audit based on which the memo was written to update him. The memo also sought to bring to his attention the need for the LRA to have the Central Bank of Liberia and commercial banks provide explanations for the irregularities relating to the moving of paid taxes from the commercial banks to the government revenue accounts at the CBL.

He further urged this reporter to read the memo with comprehension as it needed no further explanation.

WhatsApp conversation between Mr. Thomas Doe Nah and FrontPageAfrica newsroom chief requesting him to read the memo carefully because it is self-explanatory.

The Memo

The memo sought to inform Mr. Nah of how millions of millions of United States and Liberia dollars paid as taxes have not been reflecting in the Consolidated General Revenue Account at the Central Bank of Liberia (CGRA).

The audit was conducted on the Direct Transfer Payments between the commercial banks and the Government of Liberia’s (GOL) Consolidated General Revenue Account (CGRA) at the Central Bank of Liberia covering the years 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Mr. Albert Peters, Assistant Commissioner for Audit, Administrative & Technical Affairs at the LRA spearheaded the audit. It was his last audit before he was discovered dead.

FrontPageAfrica has not been able to establish Mrs. Gifty Lama, who was discovered dead along with Mr. Peters in the back seat of his car during the early morning hours of October 2, 2020, link to the audit.

However, Mrs. Lama and Mr. Peters though working in different departments maintained an intimate friendship which both families have described as a “father-daughter relationship.  She served as Manager for Taxpayers Service at the LRA.

Mr. Peters was tracing millions of United States and Liberian dollars in taxes that the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) had reportedly failed to sweep into the government’s general consolidated account as per standard operating procedures.

The Internal Audit Unit of the LRA performed the audit for purposes of ascertaining the accuracy, completeness, reliability and validity of amount of taxes commercial banks collected and remitted to government’s CGRA at the CBL in accordance with memorandum of understanding.

Internal Audit planned and performed the audit to obtain sufficient and appropriate evidence to determine whether the amount of taxes remitted by commercial banks to GOL’s CGRA at CBL accurately and completely reflects the true and fair amount of taxes collected by the commercial banks for the period under audit.

The Auditors obtained annual bank statements from commercial banks for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 and CBL swift confirmation reports for all remittances made by commercial banks to the Central Bank of Liberia for the same period. The Auditors analyzed and reviewed all the bank statements for deposits received from taxpayers and remittances made to the Central Bank of Liberia. The Auditors also interviewed key management staff of commercial banks and the CBL for purposes of corroborating information gathered from documents and records of revenue transactions performed during the period under audit.

What the Audit Discovered

The audit 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.

And 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.

Swift confirmation report is a confirmation report prepared by the beneficiary bank (CBL in this case) that funds have reached the beneficiary account.

“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.

The audit 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.

CBL Dresses Back

In reaction to the publication, the Central Bank of Liberia clarified it is not a signatory to the procedural channels regarding the movement of GOL’s revenue from commercial banks account to the consolidated revenue account, but only implements the movement of funds from the accounts based on directive from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP).

“All taxes mobilized by the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) are paid into the transitory accounts at commercial banks consistent with the Public Financial Management (PFM) Law, and eventually moved into the Government’s Consolidated Account held at the CBL, exclusively under the transparent and accountable mandate of the MFDP and LRA. Transitory accounts are issues for LRA and commercial banks,” stated a CBL press release.

At the end of every reconciliatory period, and in support of proper accountability, a routine validation is done between the LRA and the commercial banks (excluding the CBL) to confirm that all funds collected and placed in the transitory accounts are appropriately handled in line with policy. The CBL neither participates in the setting of revenue target, nor has any jurisdiction or knowledge about the actual amount received by commercial banks prior to any movement of funds into GOL’s accounts, the Central Bank maintained.

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