The head of communication at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI), has informed the Daily Observer of a pending investigation to authenticate the truth surrounding the recent discovery of reported economic fraud linking the Binani and Westline Trade Corporation allegedly declaring false prices of commodities imported to the country in order to reduce their tax obligation to government.
Recently, this newspaper obtained documents indicating that said corporation declared false prices of commodities imported to the country to avoid full tax payment in lieu of the goods.
According to Michael Jones, the Ministry is in control of the report, “and so, we will investigate to appropriately inform the public.”
“Yes, I can confirm the information, but please wait until the Ministry’s relevant department can investigate what has obtained, because we have noticed that documents linking the corporation in question were falsified,” Jones told the Daily Observer when contacted via mobile phone.
Located at Red Light Market in Paynesville City, Binani and Westline Trade Corporation, which is owned and operated by a Fulani, is mainly involved in the importation of flour.
In the documents, 441 tons of flour were declared as 441 kg, while for 8,816 bags of 50 kg each imported, the importer allegedly indicated, the total weight of the 8,816 bags is 441 kg instead of 440,800 kg. The unit price of each bag, the documents said, officially is US$480, but the importer mentioned in the declaration that the unit price is US$110 instead.
These declarations, it was gathered, were processed through BIVAC and VERITAS, and these entities validated the false declaration allegedly made by the importer.
These prices can easily be verified by simply checking on the website of the manufacturer. Despite the availability of such counter check, the declaration was accepted and the importer paid less tax at the detriment of the Liberian taxpayers and the government, who are desperately struggling to get the dying economy on track.
Several economic pundits have described the act by some flour importers as an “economic fraud,” saying importers are undermining the government’s efforts in resuscitating the Liberian economy by engaging in economic fraud to deprive it of the needed revenue.