The New Dawn (Monrovia)

Liberia: Krystal Hotel Shifts Debts On Gov't

While being prosecuted for US$8,073,061.23 tax liability, Krystal Ocean View Hotel's General Manager Mark Sulonteh told the Tax Court on Monday that the hotel requested the Finance Ministry on October 20, 2005, to apply US$493,690.00 [plus] LD$347,800.00 to debt owed Liberian Government in taxes.

Tax Court Judge Eva Mappy Morgan placed a temporary mark of identification on instruments [vouchers and communications] testified to by witness Sulonteh pending the production of the original instruments by the defense.

Prosecutors had filed an action against the Krystal Ocean View Hotel Management for its alleged indebtedness to government in the tune of US$514,912.63 unpaid tax for the fiscal periods of 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. The hotel allegedly failed to properly file and pay 7 percent GST (Goods and Services Tax), 2 percent Presumptive Tax along with withholding Taxes to government.

But following an audit requested for by Krystal Hotel in an apparent counter to government's claims, the Finance Ministry reflected in its June 22, 2011 audit report that it discovered the hotel was liable for the amount of US$8,073,061.23 instead of the US$514,912.91 earlier claimed by the state.

Assistant Justice Minister for Taxation Aaron Kparkillen argued Monday that the hotel cleverly made payment of US$12,000.00 to the Medium Tax Division (MTD), dodging the Large Tax Division at Finance Ministry in which category the hotel falls.

The state lawyer insisted that though the Medium Tax Division accepted the payment, it did not authorize the hotel to do such payment as claimed by the defendant.

"The Krystal Hotel is a large tax payer, but surprisingly they decided paying at the medium tax division, claiming that they were authorized by medium tax division director from 2007 to 2010," prosecution argued.

Further, Cllr. Kparkillen demanded that the defendant produce evidence to substantiate claims that the Medium Tax Division Director authorized the hotel to make payments at the division.

But in response, defendant Sulonteh said "Yes, I got authorization from the Director of Medium Tax Division, Ministry of Finance, together with audit report in an amount of USD$16,964.64 under the signature of Chief Inspector, Revenue Unit."

Notwithstanding, the trial is expected to continue this morning at 9:00 at the Temple of Justice with more defense witnesses to appear.

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