Amid criticism from the public regarding the Tax Court’s failure to proceed with the prosecution of tax evaders, Judge Mozart Chesson, is shifting the blame to state lawyers.
Speaking to the Daily Observer in his Chamber at the Temple of Justice, Judge Chesson said that since his appointment in July 2013, he has dealt with four alleged offenders, most of whom have been forwarded to the Board of Tax Appeal (BOTA).
BOTA is not a legal institution, and only hears complaints about tax issue and forwards the matter to that Tax Court, if the need arises.
He said the reason for that roundabout practice was that state lawyers refuse to follow the right procedure.
The Tax Court is responsible for enforcement activities to enable them to pursue tax cheaters in the country.
But, Judge Chesson stressed: “You can’t blame the court for the lack of enforcement, because prosecution has to bring the alleged tax offenders to us.”
“We are not to go after them. It is prosecution’s responsibility to bring them to Court.”
But, the Observer reporter who visited the court said that he saw over 50 undecided cases on the court’s docket.
Most of them were business institutions involved in the practices of withholding government taxes.
“State lawyers are reluctant to forward tax-related cases to the Court. I don’t know why,” Judge Chesson vented his frustration.
But, their failure, according to legal experts causes government to lose millions of United States Dollars.
His predecessor, Judge Eva Mappy Morgan, raised in two years, millions of United States Dollars from tax evaders in the country.
One of those caught in her web is the president of the Liberia Football Association (LFA), Mr. Musa Bility.
Unfortunately, Bility did not complete his tax payment under the jurisdiction of Judge Morgan.
The reason? She was replaced by Judge Chesson.
Explaining Mr. Bility’s case, the presiding Tax Court Judge said that prosecution and defense lawyers informed the court that they had reached an ‘out of court’ settlement.
“They came to me and said they had agreed to an ‘out of court’ settlement. What do you want me to do?” Judge Chesson asked, “It is their case and they can do what they want to do with it.”
“You can’t run after them for cases,” he complained. It is they who have the case and must bring it to me,” he explained.