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Tax officials disagree in U.S. cars case

Liberian tax officials assigned at the Freeport of Monrovia have come in disagreement on procedural matter relating to amending information in the on-going alleged stolen U.S. vehicles at the Criminal Court “C” in Monrovia.

A senior custom collector who has worked with the Liberia Revenue Agency or LRA Mrs. Cecelia Dixon McGill testified Wednesday, 19 July that there was no dubious act committed in amending instruments submitted in relation to the alleged stolen U.S. vehicles.

Prosecution claims in the indictment that before physical examination could be conducted on the vehicles, defendants Armstrong Tony Campbell and Sheak K. Brown “irregularly caused a reassessment and amendment” to be carried out to their previous declaration done on 8 October 2016 by defendant kandakai Sherman.

Under cross examination with prosecution at the Criminal Court “C” in Monrovia, Mrs. McGill gives a “Yes” response to the State when she was queried based on her previous testimony if she still maintained “that there was no dubious act” on the part of the senior Collector of Custom or other persons connected to the amendment.

Her testimony comes in contrast to an account given by State witness from LRA assigned at the Freeport of Monrovia Ms. Genevieve E. Sesay who had earlier testified in June that Mrs. McGill stopped the “normal procedure” of carrying the discrepancy chart to the Bureau Veritas Group Company (BIVAC) for signature.

“In the process of carrying it to BIVAC for signature which is the normal procedure we were told to stop the process of BIVAC signing. We asked [what] was the reason, Mrs. Cecelia McGill said that there was amendment made already by the clients”, witness Sesay testified on Monday, 26 June.

“So I said OK no problem since you [are] the chief examiner …” witness Sesay added, having told the court how she had questioned her boss if it had become a new procedure “that amendment can be made after the inspection”.

The government is trying a case of theft of property, economic sabotage, smuggling, criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation against defendants Armstrong Tony Campbell and Sheak K. Brown, two of four persons indicted for allegedly smuggling stolen U.S. cars to Liberia and understating their values at the Port here.

The government vows to prosecute the other two indictees including Kandakai Sherman and U.S. – based Sheriff Lasuado, both of whom remain at large.

When quizzed by prosecution if there was any other amendment request made other than the amendment of October 12, 2016 at 10:00 a.m., witness McGill testifies that there was only one request made which was dated October 12, 2016 at 10:00 a.m.

She says the changes she authorized for the assessor and the chief assessor to implement had to do with augmenting value and it was neither mileage nor VIN.

On 12 October, 2016, the indictment adds that defendant Sherman provided the third set of information about the same vehicles, but the fake VIN numbers which were earlier declared were not changed due to the fact that Sherman was in a hurry to do another reassessment sought by Campbell and Brown when they knew that physical assessment was imminent. As a result of allegedly understating the values of the vehicles, prosecutors say the four defendants paid into government revenue US$21,800.65 “when they should have paid US$92,233”.

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