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Crime & PunishmentGeneralLiberia news

TRH to pay US250K in FIU A/C pending audit

By Othello B. Garblah and Emmanuel wise Jipoh

Smarting under investigation for tax evasion amidst a major drug bust at its rented facility, TRH Trading Corporation on Thursday, October 13, signed a written commitment with the Financial Intelligence Unit to pay US250, 000 in the latter’s account pending an audit.

FIU on Tuesday, October 11 ordered all accounts of TRH and its owners frozen as part of investigations into suspicion of tax evasion amidst the recent drug bust at its SONIT warehouse near Topoe Village off the Japan Freeway.

FIU Officer in Charge, Mr. Emmanuel Gee had earlier confirmed to New Dawn investigators on Thursday that accounts of TRH Trading Corporation had been frozen after detecting money laundering and tax evasion by the company.

Mr. Gee told our investigators via mobile phone: “As we carry out further investigations on possible tax evasion, the FIU has frozen the accounts of those involved, and the Government of Liberia is cooperating to the investigation.”

Mr. Gee dismissed speculation of threats from some unnamed government officials to double down on TRH.

“I’m in a meeting now and hope to have a further conversation with you,” Mr. Gee said.

Hours after this conversation with the FIU OIC, PI, formerly of the Liberia National Police called this paper and confirmed during a telephone investigation that the freeze on the accounts has been lifted. PI identified himself as one of the managers at TRH.

On Tuesday, sources told this paper that owners of TRH and Abi Joudi spent the entire day at the Liberian National Police Headquarters on Saturday, October 8, 2022, answering questions relative to the drug bust and tax evasion.

TRH Trading Corporation originally from Hungary, has its main offices on Jamaica Road, Bushrod Island with several sub-branches across the country.

The company is also part of AJA- Group Holdings, a conglomeration of ABI Jaoudi & Fresh Frozen Food.

Documents in the possession of this paper show that Tannah Abrahim, the wife of Bilal Abrahim owns 98% share in TRH, with the remaining 2% being split between J. Johnny Momoh and Jason Weni.

Before the recent drug bust at its rented facility on SONIT Liberia Inc. compound in Topoe Village, FIU had been investigating the suspicious tax evasion activities by TRH Trading Company.

The company, according to report, has been clearing its containers on mere invoices and bills of landing without going through the proper customs inspection, which also includes physical inspection as is legally required for right taxation.

Sources at the Liberian Revenue Authority (LRA) have neither denied nor confirmed the allegation when this paper made contact. But say TRH Trading Company tax disparity had been put under review and that the LRA does conduct post clearance audit of the company’s shipments to reconcile the difference.

Well, highly placed sources say such practice may have led to the alleged smuggling of drugs by the company.

It could be recalled that on Saturday, October 1, 2022, Liberian security busted drugs with street value at US$100m at SONIT Liberia Inc. compound in Topoe Village outside Monrovia after a tipoff from the United States Government.

Documents obtained by this paper showed that the containers in question were shipped by Castrolanda Cooperativa in Brazil and loaded at the port of Itajai on August 23, 2022, before being forwarded to Maersk Line Liberia Limited with TRH Trading Company as the consignee.

What brokers have found more interesting about this shipment and the privileges being enjoyed by TRH Trading Company is that the Global Maritime Tracking Solution, which tracks all shipments from around the globe warned that the consignment which contained the drugs be subject to physical inspection.

But customs authorities at National Port Authority ignored the warning and allow the containers to leave the port without any physical inspection.

Sources close to the FIU say the discovery of the drugs in the TRH Trading Company rented facility may have prompted the financial compliance unit to freeze the accounts of the company and its owners.

NewDawn

The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).
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