9 August 2012

Liberia: Musa Bility Presents Genuine Evidence in Tax Case

The Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) through one of its employees has testified that pieces of evidence presented to the Tax Court at the Temple of Justice by Liberian businessman Musa Hassan Bility in the ongoing task case are genuine.

The Temple of Justice is situated on Capitol Hill, Monrovia. The ongoing tax case involves the Government of Liberia(GOL) and Mr. Bility's Gulf Trading/Srimex Enterprises.

Mr. Francis H. Nimely, a Teller employed with the CBL since 2005, spoke Wednesday, August 8, 2012, when he took the witness stand to testify as to whether claims made by Mr. Bility and his Gulf Trading/Srimex Enterprises that they have made several tax payments to the GOL via the bank is true or not.

It can be recalled that recently, the Tax Court subpoena authority of the CBL to appear before it on July 21, 2012, at the precise hour of 9: A.M. to produce and testify to documents presented to the Tax Court in the form of receipts of tax payments Mr. Bility and his Gulf Trading/Srimex Enterprises, Inc. allegedly paid to GOL through the CBL.

On Wednesday, July 18, 2012, Mr. Bility's lawyer, Cllr. Theophilus Gould, while presenting several documents to the Court, argued that his client had made various payments to GOL via the Central Bank of Liberia. Documents displayed by the Bility legal team with a request to make same admissible into evidence included five separate receipts indicating tax payment to government on May 5, 2009, May 15, 2009 and May 30, 2009 respectively.

According to the receipts numbers AA146669, AA140668, AA140667, AA153567 and AA140666, Mr. Bility and his Gulf Trading/Srimex claimed to have paid GOL about US$199,000. But government lawyers took exception to the documents, arguing that they (documents) were not firstly presented by the defense counsels at the start of their pleading as is consistent with law.

Secondly, the GOL lawyers noted that the documents in question were not the original copies but photo copies of the original, which they argued could not be admissible into evidence before the Honorable Court in line with the law.

The government lawyers then prayed the Court to order the defendant to instead pray that authority of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) be subpoena to provide clarity on the matter by presenting the original copies of pieces of receipts provided by the Bility's legal team.

Predicated upon the GOL lawyers' exception, to Mr. Bility legal representation and the defense counsel's subsequent prayer to subpoena authority of the CBL, the Tax Court through Presiding Tax Court Judge, Her Honor Eva Mappy-Morgan ordered that a Writ of Subpoena Deces Tecum be served authority of the CBL.

"You are hereby commanded to subpoena Central Bank of Liberia Authority to appear before this Honorable Court on July 21, 2012, at the precise hour of 9: A.M. to produce and testify to the following documents in the above captioned cause of action for the defendant Gulf Trading/Srimex Enterprises, Inc," the writ of subpoena among others stated.

But representing the CBL before Assigned Tax Judge Eva Mappy-Morgan in open court yesterday, Teller Nimely in response to direct examination from defense Counsel Cllr. Theophilus Gould stated: "yes Counsel, these documents are the ones that were presented to be filed before this honorable Court and they are genuine." Thereafter, defense Counsel Gould made the submission for said documents to be admissible into evidence.

Meanwhile, Assigned Tax Court Judge Mappy-Morgan has served a notice for assignment for final argument in the case. The notice, which was served in court on Wednesday, August 8, 2012, sets the date for final argument into the matter for Wednesday, August 15, 2012.

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