Just a day for Criminal Court ‘C’ to begin hearing into the much talked about US$163,485.78 alleged theft case that involved two Lebanese national, Salah and his son Tamer Farhat, the government lawyers have admitted that they cannot continue with the matter because there is defect in the indictment (charge) drawn against the Farhat.
The 25 count indictment was drawn based on a complaint filed by Ezzat Eid, the former president of the Lebanese World Cultural Union of Liberia, of which the government charged the Farhats with multiple crimes that include money laundering, theft of property, misapplication of entrusted property and criminal conspiracy.
It all started February of this year, when Eid accused the Farhats of stealing US$1.3 million from the coffers of the Toya Motors Company, where Salah served as managing partner and holds a 35 percent share and Tamer as the assistant managing director, while Eid holds the remaining 65percent share of the company.
To the astonishment of the Judge Nancy Sammy, the government lawyers had asked the court to exclude the charge of money laundering because the elements of that crime are not visible and present in the facts and circumstances in the case.
However, Judge Sammy on Friday, December 13 granted the government’s lawyers request to exclude the money laundering charge so that the defendants will not be compelled to answer to it (money laundering).
Further to Sammy’s ruling, she said, the decision was backed by the law, as well as the concession by the government lawyers where they have conceded that the indictment should be amended to exclude the crime of money laundering. Therefore, Sammy declared, “the said motion is hereby granted and the indictment shall now contain the charges of theft of property, misapplication of entrusted property and criminal conspiracy.”
She added “these are the charges that the defendants will answer to during the course of the trial of this case and nothing more or nothing less.”
In their request to drop the money laundering charge against the Farhats, the government lawyers said that it is legally appropriate to charge the crimes of theft of property, misapplication of entrusted property and criminal conspiracy in that the elements of these crimes are visible and present according to the facts and circumstances available to them.
“It is convenient and convincing to prove this case beyond reasonable doubt, if the indictment is amended and limited to the charges of theft of property, misapplication of entrusted property and criminal conspiracy,” the prosecution begged.
In their indictment, the prosecution claimed that between the periods of 2011 up to and including 2018, Salah Farhat and Eid have been 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 interest in the importation and selling of Chinese’s manufactured vehicles on the Liberian market.
Based upon the relationship and coupled with Farhat experienced in this line of business, Eid provided the funds to establish a partnership enterprise with said 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 who assisted his father in the running of the affairs of the business 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 majority owners, Eid.
Eid also claimed that the Farhats was involved into several others fraudulent activities that cost the company to lose US$1.3million
Eid further alleges that Salah used his company money to establish another company named Cedar Motors Inc that is currently engage in the importation, sale and distribution of Chinese-manufactured vehicles in the country.
However, the Farhats had so far denied the allegation when the indictment was openly read to them.
Their lawyers have repeatedly argued that the charges were not based on tip off from any of the competent authorities, and or financial audit, “rather Eid rushed to judgment based on conjecture after the dissolution of the partnership, and consequently developed charges considered unfolded, and prejudicial to the substantial rights of the defendants.”
They claimed that Eid and the Farhats were business partners of which, Eid had 65 percent share and the Farhats had 35 percent shares with outstanding receivables (meaning uncollected money of the business).
They argued that before the dissolution of the partnership, Eid conducted an audit of the Farhats, from which he cleared the pair of any wrongdoing.
Later, Eid noticed that he was indebted to the Farhats, and that they were entitled to 35 percent share of the outstanding receivables, but it was when he decided to bring the charges against the pair, and subjected them to imprisonment.