An investigation conducted by The Monrovia Times has uncovered that a ‘duty-free permit’ given Golden Veroleum (Liberia) is being fraudulently abused by some unscrupulous individuals to defraud the Government of Liberia of over US$382,000 in taxes.
According to documents in the possession of The Monrovia Times, GVL duty-free privilege was unlawfully used to clear ten (10) dump trucks and assorted spare parts from the Freeport of Monrovia belonging to the MHM EKO Liberia Inc. company earlier this year.
The criminality of using GVL privilege duty free document is currently being probed by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) and Crime Services Department of the Liberia National Police (LNP); but during the investigation, an employee of the Ministry of Finance’s Duty Free Section identified as Barry F. Tequah was arrested upon admitting to forging the signature of the Vice President for Strategy and Stakeholders of GVL.
According to a communication dated February 25, 2019, the GVL informed the Liberia National Police Inspector General, Patrick Sudue after they were informed by LRA that their duty-free privilege was fraudulently used by one MHM ECO Liberia Inc. to clear their equipment.
The company immediately called on the police to conduct an investigation into the matter, but according to GVL’s former complaint filed, there has been no redress on the merit of the case since they complained about the abuse of their duty-free permit.
The documents further disclosed that MHM EKO Liberia, Inc. was once denied by the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) of obtaining ‘Duty Free Privilege’, but allegedly the management of MHM EKO through an employee of the Ministry of Finance identified as Barry F. Tequah allegedly forged the permit belonging to GVL and successfully cleared their equipment which is currently being allegedly used by some companies.
“During our preliminary investigation with Mr. Tequah, he admitted being the one that forged the signature of the vice president and submitted this document to the Liberia Revenue Authority, with the intent to place our company at a disadvantage,” GVL’s communication to the DCP, John G. Kemoh, Major Crime Investigation Department, LNP.
During the investigation period, the Ministry of Justice in a communication requested the Ministry of Transport to assist the ongoing investigation with names of persons or institutions that own the ten dump trucks bearing the following particulars 2018: VIN#470540; 2018 VIN#470541; 2018 VIN#470542; 2018 VIN#470543 and 2018 VIN#470544.
The communication sent by the Ministry of Justice to the Transport Ministry was received by Mr. Gallow C.S. Brown, Jr. on Monday, March 26, 2019 at 3:46pm with contact number: 0770271425, but there has been no formal response pertaining to the registration of these trucks when the ministry is the authorized institution responsible to do vehicles’ registration.
Investigating the abuse and violation of GVL Liberia duty-free permit, the LRA Post Clearance Audit Unit disclosed that a company named MHM EKO Liberia Inc. has falsified a duty-free privilege belonging to GVL after said entity was denied duty free privilege by LRA.
The Liberia Revenue Authority’s communication to Golden Veroleum Liberia General Manager requested a conference with the accused entity to provide clarity on the matter as regards to clearing of ten dump trucks on behalf of MHM EKO Liberia Inc., but the management of GVL expressed surprise over how their permit was forged.
How did the investigator know MHM EKO Liberia Inc?
Following up on the investigation to know the company that used Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) duty free privilege, the Ministry of Justice wrote the Liberia Business Registry, Registrar General to find out the actual name of the company that fraudulently used the privileged duty free documents to clear ten SINO dump trucks and assorted spare parts.
It was established by the Justice Ministry that the request for the duty-free privilege was satisfied by LRA and as such the ten dump trucks and assorted spare parts were cleared, but GVL latter informed LRA that she did not apply for said duty-free privilege, thus leaving the Government of Liberia to sustain financial losses.
Fortunately, LBR on June 4, 2019 informed the police investigative unit that “after a diligent search and examination of the records of the LBR with respect to all instruments filed in accordance with Chapter 4 of Title 14 of the General Business Law and otherwise in respect of this business, the above company was found within the database and is deemed to be registered.”
This how the investigators got to know that MHM EKO, Inc. was a legally registered entity owned by some individuals who are defrauding the government of needed revenues.
Responding to the allegation, GVL-Liberia filed a former complaint about investigation and prosecution of multiple crimes as committed against the management of the company which according to them have negative effects on its duty-free privileges as a concession company.
When contacted, The management of GVL said at no time did GVL misuse any duty-free privilege issued them by the Government of Liberia to clear on behalf of any company as being alleged. The management further noted that the issue with the fraudulent misuse of the company’s duty-free privilege was done by some individuals and the police is investigating.
Investigation continues, The Monrovia Times will keep you updated.