-Supreme Court to Probe Case
A legal contention as to whether or not Srimex, an oil and gas company owned by Musa Bility, actually made a payment of US$23,000 against its tax fraud/obligation of US$300,130.68 and L$37,768,444.77 is to shortly be investigated by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court’s probe arises from Bility’s argument that he made a payment of US$23,000 of the US$117, 710 that should have reduced his tax obligation to US$94,710. But the alleged US$23,000 payment did not reflect on his debt records at the Tax Court.
Bility has made several payments through the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), including a check dated June 17, 2017, in the amount of US$28,590 that was paid on June 20, 2017, excluding the US$23,000.
Bility had even raised serious concern before the Supreme Court with regards to Judge Chesson’s alleged increment of his tax obligation from US$94,710 to US$300,130.68 and L$37,768,444.77 which the Supreme Court will also look into.
Though Chesson had consistently refused to speak to the Daily Observer on the matter of Bility’s alleged US$23,000 payment, some of his staffers, who want to remain anonymous, admitted that Bility’s then lead lawyer, Cllr. Theophilus Gould, in 2016 presented the check of US$23,000 to the court.
Later it was reported that Chesson returned the check to Gould, who is now deceased, with a reservation that he should encash it (check) and subsequently bring the cash to the court because the court was interested in the cash and not in the check.
“Since the check was given to Gould nothing has been heard about it. So, how Bility expects the court to record that US$23,000 as some of the payments he had made against the judgment debt,” the court staffer(name withheld) wondered.
Another staff said,“We are just waiting for the Supreme Court to start the investigation so that we can see the truthfulness about Bility’s US$23,000 payment.”
In August 2012, Judge Eva Mappy Morgan held Srimex liable for evading government taxes to the tune of US$190,800 and subsequently ordered the company’s management to make an immediate payment of 25 percent, which is US$47,700, within 24 hours of her ruling.
Judge Morgan further threatened to shut down the company if it refused to comply with her decision at that time. Her decision came immediately after Srimex’s legal team, headed by Cllr. Gould, admitted that their client evaded government taxes.
After Gould admitted that his client had not paid taxes for some years, he hurriedly proceeded to the Supreme Court, pleading with then Chamber Justice Kabineh Ja’neh to stop Judge Morgan from enforcing her decision, which Justice Ja’neh accepted.
Judge Morgan had not enforced her ruling when, in early 2013, she was reassigned by the Full Bench of the Supreme Court to head the Commercial Court at the Temple of Justice.
In line with his predecessor’s decision, Judge Chesson after several attempts to persuade Bility to pay his due taxes failed, he (Chesson) also issued an order to enforce his judgment by seizing Bility’s properties, to auction them to raise the money.
Judge Chesson’s action came after five years of negotiating with Bility, to see the reason to settle his tax evasion obligation, which Bility refused to do, arguing that he made a payment of US$23,000 that was not recorded by the court.
Chesson’s ruling against Bility, dated October 23, 2017, declared Bility liable to pay the government US$396,220.58 which includes a monthly compounded interest of US$205,420.68 for 63 months at an interest of 14% as of July 2012 plus the initial tax judgment amount of US$190,800. Enforcement of that ruling has also been stalled by the Supreme Court based on Bility’s argument that it was illegal.