The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) has arrested two Chinese nationals, a woman and a man, for allegedly taking building materials meant for the construction of the Monrovia Vocational Training Center (MVTC) to sell.
The arrest was made on June 22, 2015 after LRA security intercepted and arrested the trucks a day earlier at the WJ Building Materials Store on 15th Street, Sinkor.
The building materials store is operated by Bing Shu Jun, commonly known in Liberia as “Nancy,” while Tim Tim arrested along with Bing Shu Jun is the head of the China Shan Construction Engineering Group constructing the Monrovia Vocational Training Center.
Explaining to reporters in an interview at the LRA headquarters at ELWA Junction, Security/Investigation Consultant Sam Gaye, said the building materials in question were brought for the construction of the Monrovia Vocational
Training Center and are duty free as requested by the Ministry of Youth & Sports.
Instead of carrying them to the construction site of the training center, the materials according to Gaye were transferred to the building materials store where trucks loaded with the materials were arrested.
From a legal standpoint, LRA Chief Legal Counsel, Max T. Duncan, explained that under the law of Liberia, duty free goods coming into the country must go to the destination according to the manifesto.
“If you take a detour with the goods, it is against the law. Building materials that came under duty free meant to construct the MVTC for the Liberian people were diverted to a commercial enterprise, and if they were goodwill people, they would have called the LRA to ask how they would go about doing what they wanted to do with the goods, [so as] not to be in violation of the law. Instead, they decided to defraud government of its taxes which is a felony and punishable by fines and imprisonment,” Cllr. Duncan said.
He added that the act also sabotages the economy and on that basis the LRA will charge the Chinese nationals for sabotaging the economy by colluding to defraud government of revenue.
Now that they are arrested, LRA Chief Legal Consultant Duncan said they are entitled, according to their rights, to hire lawyers, remain silent until their lawyer advises them to speak and to gather witnesses as they at LRA also prepare for prosecution.
It may be recalled that about two months ago, a Chinese businessman was arrested for not declaring goods that he brought into the country and was taken to the West Point Magisterial Court where he admitted to the act and amicably settled with LRA and the court by paying the imposed fine.
Another instance is recalled to have occurred at the Red Light where a Chinese national was arrested for similar act.
Responding to these concerns, Cllr. Duncan indicated that though Chinese have been arrested on many occasions, they are not the only people violating the law.
“The violators come from all walks of life, of different nationalities, and this should not be seen as a witch hunt for the Chinese,” he noted.
He said law abiding Chinese are not arrested and prosecuted as done to those engaged in violations, acknowledging that China is a friendly nation to Liberia with no condition undermining the relationship.
However, those arrested on Monday turned hostile and intransigent during the arrest, insulting police and attempting to assault journalists and others who were taking photos.
Information acquired from some sources at the LRA indicates that Chinese companies building infrastructures including training centers and roads are allowed duty free privileges to bring materials into the country. However, some of them are in the habit of diverting some of the duty free materials to commercial enterprise.
The People’s Republic of China has been praised by the Liberian Government for being true friend because of its contributions to Liberia’s development agenda.
In addition to substantial support to Liberia’s fight against the Ebola virus and a recent donation of a fleet of diplomatic vehicles, the Chinese government is poised to erect a massive ministerial complex for the Government of Liberia in Congo Town.