… for Stealing over US$1.3M from Tayo Motors
Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice on Friday, April 24 sentenced two Lebanese businessmen, Salah and his son Tamer Farhat to four (4) and one (1) year imprisonment each, ordering the Farhats to restitute the amount of US$US$1,370,390.60 stolen from Tayo Motors Liberia, where they served in separate managerial positions.
Salah was sentenced in absentia. Tayo Motors Liberia is owned by another Lebanese businessman, Ezzat Eid, who had levied criminal charges against the Farhats.
In the court’s ruling on Friday, Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay said, “Co-defendant Salah age 66, and the fact that he has no history of previous criminal record, but, Salah’s consistent refusal of peaceful resolution settlement, he is hereby sentenced to an imprisonment for a period of four (4) year, together with restitution of the full judgment amount that is US$1,370,390.60.”
For co-defendant, Tamer, Judge Gbeisay also said, “The fact that there is no criminal record of him,(Tamer) and the subordinate role he played in the commission of the crimes, he is hereby sentenced to an imprisonment for a period of one (1) only.”
Strangely, Gbeisay’s ruling did not make any reference as to whether Tamer is going to restitute the money stolen from Eid’s company, Tayo Motors Liberia.
Initially, Gbeisay had declared the Farhats guilty of three of the charges that include theft of property, misapplication of entrusted property and criminal conspiracy against them, of which sentenced he (Gbeisay) postponed pending the outcome of the pre-sentenced investigation by the Probation and Parole Services at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) on the character of both Salah and Tamer.
Further to the pre-sentence findings, Gbeisay said, Eid and Salah have been good friends for a long period of time, and they were also partners of Tayo Motors Liberia with Eid’s share standing at 65 percent and Salah having the remaining 35percent.
Judge Gbeisay disclosed that even efforts by the Lebanese Community of Liberia to resolve the problem between the two best friends through an arbitration did not materialize because Salah was interested in resolving their difference by court’s intervention and not any other means to include the World Lebanese Culture Union of Liberia, of which Eid had served as one of its presidents, and Salah also hold senior position.
Gbeisay continued that in a situation of this nature involving business transactions and allegation of misuse of money, an arbitration proceedings consisting of professional or careered business talcum would have been the best alternative to provide an amicable solution.
Wondering about Salah’s refusal to accept the peaceful resolution proposed by Eid and the Lebanese Community in Liberia, Gbeisay said, “Why were an audit and or request for arbitration consistently refused by Salah and Tamer?”
To support Gbeisay’s explanation about Salah’s refusal for arbitration when the case was ongoing, Gbeisay cited representatives of the Lebanese Ambassador and the President of the Lebanese Community as references in the know of the out-of-court settlement.
The representatives of the Lebanese Ambassador and the community testified that they cited the parties, Eid and Salah, though unfortunately Salah refused to attend any of the called meetings leading to the establishment of an Arbitration Committee.
That action necessitated Eid to hire the services of ENAG Consulting and Auditing Firm, on April 5, 2018 to conduct an audit on the operations of Tayo Motors.
The auditing firm also contacted Salah Farhat to avail himself for the audit but he refused to cooperate with the auditors. Thereafter, the audit report that resulted to the indictment of both Salah and Tamer Farhat for the commission of the crimes of criminal conspiracy, theft of property and misapplication of entrusted property was completed.
The case grew when the state prosecution claimed that between the periods of 2011 up to and including 2018, Salah Farhat and Eid were friends and members of the Lebanese World Cultural Union of Liberia, and when Eid served as president, Salah was a member of the organization’s executive committee.
During that period, the court record alleges that Eid visited China and developed an interest in the importation and selling of Chinese manufactured vehicles on the Liberian market.
Based upon the relationship coupled with Farhat experience in this line of business, Eid provided the funds to establish a partnership enterprise with Salah, and they both established Toya Motors Liberia.
They agreed that Salah’s monthly remuneration for his services as managing partner of Toya Motors should be US$2,000, while his son Tamer his assistant would receive US$1,000 monthly.
Contrary to the agreement between the partners of Toya Motors, the document alleges that from February 1, 2016 up to and including February 28, 2018, the defendants increased their monthly salaries to US$5,000 without the knowledge and approval of the majority owner, Eid.
Eid also claimed that the Farhats were involved in several other fraudulent activities that caused the company to lose US$1.3million.
Eid further alleges that Salah used the company’s money to establish another company named Cedar Motors Inc. that is currently engaged in the importation, sale, and distribution of Chinese-manufactured vehicles in the country.