By Edwin G. Wandah
The Tax Court at the Temple of Justice has fined Srimex Enterprise, US$ 57,000,700 24 cents for violating Tax Evasion of the Revenue Code of Liberia, Act of 2000 (Tax Code).
According to Government during the hearing at the Tax Court, it alleged that in May 20, 2009, Srimex declared on entry Number 6320, same which was being its single Administrative Document (SAD), 12,500 metric tons of cement, equivalent to 250, 000 bags, to the Management of the Bureau of Customs and Excise (BCE) stationed at the National Port Authority (NPA).
Government also submitted that Srimex paid a total of US149, 295, 00 in taxes on the aforesaid 12, 500 (250, 000 bags) metric tons, extending in its bid to evade payment of certain legitimate customs duty while, offloading its 12,500 metric tons that were accurately declared and taxes thereon retired.
It further stated that Srimex wrote a letter to the Management of the National Port Authority in June 18, 2009, reaching an agreement with the vessel M/V Lady Nariman to purchase additional 4,500 metric tons without notice to the BCE and the Ministry of Commerce.
Government also averred that the General Auditing Commission-GAC, notified the Ministry of Finance, BCE, of the misrepresentation by Srimex on its cement import. GAC in its letter dated January 19, 2010 to the aforesaid BCE in which matter was reported, required it to submit supporting documents on the additional 4,500 metric tons of cements which had been freed by Srimex.
Tax Evasion under the law is a willful attempt to defeat or circumvent tax law in order to illegally reduce one’s tax liability, which is punishable by both civil and criminal penalties.
Meanwhile, based on the facts of the case and the applicable laws discussed and rules that: a. Srimex is in breach of Section 1900 (Tax Evasion) of the Revenue Code of Liberia, Act of 2000, b. Tax Court can enter final judgment in the civil phase of tax evasion, and c. the criminal aspect of tax evasion is an indictable offense and the defendant, Srimex, shall be turned over to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution.
Therefore, as there are compelling edicts authorizing this court to adjudge Srimex civilly liable for tax evasion and similarly to allow the defendant equal protection by having a court of competent jurisdiction find against the said defendant in the matter of felony, this court enters judgment as follows. 1. That Defendant Srimex is civilly liable to Government in the amount of US57, 719, 24, and a fine of LD200, 000, 00 and 2. Srimex shall be turned over to the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Liberia for prosecution on the criminal component of tax evasion.
In accordance, defendant Srimex is ordered without delay to pay to this court for deposit into Government’s revenue the aforesaid amount of US$57, 719, 24, and a fine of LD200, 000, 00.