The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) has now confirmed that Aminata & Sons diverted duty free fuel lifted for the Liberia Water & Sewer Corporation (LWSC) in a grand syndicate that has led to massive tax evasion.
LRA investigation in a press release said nearly 117,000 gallons of fuel have passed through the reported scheme. The LRA said the diversion has been occurring for some time.
“The investigation has reasonable suspicion that a huge amount of fuel was lifted on duty free by Aminata & Sons, Inc. without duty payments, with the complicity of someone from the LWSC,” the release said.
Aminata and Sons, Inc. is authorized to lift duty free fuel for LWSC. Aminata has lifted thousands of gallons of fuel in the name of the LWSC over the years with significant diversion.
The management of Aminata & Sons has officially acknowledged that 2,000 gallons intended for the LWSC was diverted to its Kakata retail service station.
The company “admitted to LRA investigators that the intercepted consignment was not the first of its kind that duty free product had been misdirected.”
LRA data mining exercise concluded as of 2012 revealed that this diversion has been occurring for many years. The data mining exercise is continuing.
Customs Commissioner Saa Saamoi said the scheme has caused the Government of Liberia to lose thousands of dollars.
The quantity of fuel recently intercepted is reported to be part of the 140,000 gallons earmarked as LWSC Second Quarter (October-December 2015) duty free supply.
The investigation has established that the fuel requirement for LWSC is about 40 thousand gallons or less and the LWSC has been requesting 140 thousand gallons.
The LWSC, beneficiary of the duty free product, has already suspended a staff in connection with the suspected fraud as full investigation continues.
The LRA began probing Aminata & Sons Inc. after the company was caught “red-handed” on October 28, 2015 after it misdirected a tanker of fuel belonging to the LWSC.
The misdirected tanker contained 2,000 gallons of duty free fuel which was to be delivered to the LWSC Fiamah Sub Office in Monrovia, but was instead diverted to Aminata and Sons local filling station in Kakata, Margibi County.
It may be recalled that Aminata and Sons, Inc. on February 16, 2014 was again caught diverting duty free fuel product intended for the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC), another duty free beneficiary to its Chocolate City Service Station,
LRA, through its intelligence operations, intercepted the scheme and impounded the tanker on grounds that the 2,000 gallons of fuel was a duty free product.
Meanwhile, LRA Commissioner General Elfrieda Stewart Tamba has said that she will seek the audit assistance of the General Auditing Commission (GAC) and the Internal Audit Agency (IAA) to investigate duty free beneficiaries.