25 January 2012

Gambia: In Mam Sait Njie's Economic Crime Trial - GRA Deputy Commissioner Testifies

The economic crime trial involving Mam Sait Njie resumed before the Special Criminal Court in Banjul presided over by Justice Emmanuel Nkea with the third prosecution witness, Mamoud Joof, the deputy Commissioner at the Domestic Tax Department at the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) in charge of the Tax Office and Units testifying before the court.It would be recalled that Mam Sait Njie is charged with one count of economic crime contrary to Section 5 (b) of the Economic Crime (Specified offences) Act Cap 13 Vol 111, Revised Laws of The Gambia.

The particulars of the offence stated that the accused, Mam Sait Njie, on or about 12th February 2009 caused loss to the economy of The Gambia to the tune of D4.5 million by engaging in the sale of land to the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC) without paying capital gain tax to the Gambia Revenue Authority.

The third prosecution witness, Mamoud Joof, the deputy Commissioner at the Domestic Tax Department of the GRA, informed the Special Criminal Court that he started working with the Income Tax Office since 1976. He recalled that on the 11th November 2011 he was called on his phone to report at the Major Crime Unit at the Police headquarters in Banjul.

Joof disclosed that at the Major Crime Unit, he was shown a tax identification certificate bearing the name of the accused, Mam Sait Njie and a TIN number 0911153896. The witness further disclosed that the police informed him that they wanted to know whether the accused had paid capital gain tax on 300 plots of land sold to the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation for the sum of D30 Million.

Joof said he took the TIN certificate back to his office and conducted a research on the TIN certificate, but realised that no capital gain tax was paid in respect to the 300 plots of land sold to the SSHFC. PW3 revealed that he went back to the police headquarters and informed the police of his findings and made a statement to that effect. At this junction, state counsel Ebrima Jaiteh asked him (the 3rd witness) whether he has a copy of the said TIN certificate, and the witness replied in the affirmative. The said certificate was tendered and admitted in evidence and marked exhibit D.

Under cross-examination, defence counsel L.S Camara pointed out that the document that was shown to him (the witness) at the police headquarters and the one he presented to the court are not the same, but Joof quickly reminded the court that the document he presented to the court is the TIN certificate of the accused. He (Joof) was further shown a tax clearance certificate issued by him to the accused and he identified the said certificate. The said certificate was tendered in evidence and admitted as defence exhibit one.

Joof was then asked to read the defence exhibit one before the court, which he did. He indicated that the defence exhibit one was issued for a plot of land located at Lamin village, assigned to the SSHFC by the accused, Mam Sait Njie. Joof denied that the assignment of land to the SSHFC was not in respect of the 300 plots he (Mam Sait Njie) sold to SSHFC, rather it was about a transfer of land and not about a purchase of 300 plots.

He (Joof) further confirmed that he knows about the transfer but was not present when the demarcation of the said land was done and did not know it off head. The witness (Joof) emphasised to the court that the clearance certificate issued to the accused is different from the 300 plots sold to the SSHFC. He however said that the transfer was a single transaction different from the 300 plots. Still under cross-examination, Joof re-emphasised that the accused did not pay capital gain tax for the 300 plots and maintained that he was telling the court the truth.

When he (Joof) was shown his statement he made to the police, he identified it and was asked to read the last paragraph of the said (witness) statement, which reads: "To my knowledge there has never been anytime that Mr. Mam Sait Njie of Fajara, KMC bearing TIN...0911153896 came to the office in Banjul to make a payment in respect of capital gain tax for plots of land sold to SSHFC, as far as I am concerned, that is what I know about this issue."

The said witness statement was tendered in evidence by the defence team and was admitted in evidence and marked as defence exhibit two. The judge, Justice Emmanuel Nkea also asked the witness (Joof) whether the 300 plots of land was in pursuant to the joint venture between Mam Sait Njie and the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation? the witness answered in the negative. The witness' response prompted the defence team to asked him (the witness) further questions in order to clarify the ambiguity.

The defence team led by Antouman A.B Gaye asked Joof where the land was situated? In his response, the witness replied that the lands are situated in Lamin village. Defence Counsel Gaye further asked the witness how many plots of land were situated in Lamin? He (the witness) replied that he can't tell how many plots of land, adding that he was not present during the demarcation.

Hearing continues on 1st February 2012.

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