The NEWS (Monrovia)

Liberia: Lonestar in U.S.$19 Million 'Tax Evasion'

One of Liberia's first and perhaps oldest GSM companies, the Lonestar Communications Corporation (LCC) has been taken to the Tax Court at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia for an alleged tax liability in the amount of US$19,197,903.44.

Court records available to this paper reveal that the Action of Tax Evasion was instituted against the Lonestar by the Liberian government after the cell phone company filed a petition with the court for judicial review of the Board of Tax Appeals' ruling adjudging the appellant/defendant liable for the amount of US$19 million.

The Board of Tax Appeals is situated within the Ministry of Finance, responsible to investigate tax related cases between the taxpayers and the government.

According to the record, petitioner/Lonestar told the court that she is an appellant/defendant before the Board of Tax Appeals at the Ministry of Finance, who is being held liable by co-respondent, Amara Konneh, for an alleged tax evasion covering the periods from 2007 to 2011.

The petitioner cited the Revenue Code of Liberia 2000 act, specifically section 60(g) as its reliance, "provides in relevant parts that a party dissatisfied with the decision of BOTA may appeal to a court of competent jurisdiction provided that the appeal is made within 30 days of the date co-respondent BOTA's decision is served on the party."

The Lonestar by and through its legal counsels argued that the periods under review, 2007-2011, it paid its required tax obligations, but contended that thereafter in June, 2012, respondent/MoF amended the corporation's tax returns for the same period and made an additional assessment against the appellant/defendant in the amount of US$1.0M, which Lonestar said it paid.

However, in its verified resistance, legal counsels for the Ministry of Finance prayed the court to deny and dismiss the petition as a matter of law.

The MoF submitted that it filed its motion to dismiss on grounds that Lonestar filed its petition on November 22, 2013, but did not serve the movant until November 26, 2013.

The court is yet to listen to the petition for judicial review and its resistance thereto.

The LCC came into existence in 2001 during the regime of jailed Liberian President Charles G. Taylor.

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