Liberia: Gov't Takes media owner Musa Bility to Court for 'Tax Evasion'

Regulation & Policy

The Government of Liberia (GOL) through the Tax Court has taken Liberian businessman and President of the Liberia Football Association, Musa Bility, to Court for alleged tax evasion.

Musa Bility is the President and CEO of Srimex, a company dealing in petroleum products. The Liberian businessman is also the owner of the Renaissance Communications, Inc (RCI), which operates the Truth FM Radio, Real TV and Renaissance Newspaper respectively

Lawyers at the Tax Division of the Ministry of Finance told the Tax Court at the Temple of Justice Thursday, July 12, 2012 that they have substantial evidence to indicate that Mr. Bility owes government taxes in the tone of US$368,000.00.

The Finance Ministry Tax Division Lawyers, Aaron Kparklin and Paul Duan further told the Court that government also has substantial evidence that although Mr. Bility was previously indebted to the GOL in the US$488,000.00 in taxes, he made a part-payment, which thereby reduced the amount to US$368,000.

The government lawyers then requested the Court to apply the appropriate law that will compel Mr. Bility to pay the money into government coffers, in order to serve as deterrence to would-be tax evaders. In counter argument, the lawyer representing the accused, Cllr. Theophilous Gould, told the Court that while it is true that his client owes government, he (Bility) owes far less the figure the GOL lawyers are claiming.

He stated that his client owes GOL US$180.000 and not US$368.000, as claimed by government lawyers. However, passing on the issue raised, the Presiding Judge, Eva Mappay-Morgan, sustained the application made by government lawyers not to mark and admit into evidence belated documents presented by Mr. Bility's lawyer to form an integral part of the case.

The presiding judge then ruled that the government lawyers' application was sustained on the cardinal principle of law that provides that every document connected to a case must be attached to the pleadings, prior to the presentation of evidence during the trial.

But Bility's lawyer, Cllr. Gould took exception to Presiding Judge Mappy-Morgan's ruling and notified the Court that he would take advantage of the law to seek remedy in that direction. Thereafter, the trial was suspended by Judge Mappy-Morgan and reassigned for today, Monday, July 16, 2012, at 10:00AM local time.