31 C
City of Banjul
Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Letter to Minister of Justice,

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Dear Honourable,

I am writing to you with the greatest respect and hoping that Allah will grant you the maximum protection in this holy month of Ramadan and guide you as you carry out the noble task of ensuring justice is served to all.

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The recent decision to have all those found culpable by the Tax Review Commission to make immediate payments of all outstanding taxes back to Government is indeed remarkable. One of those affected defaulters is the Libyan Arab African Investment Company Limited (LAFICO) that bought the Atlantic Hotel from the Government of the Gambia in 1999.

Following the purchase, Corinthia UK was contracted to manage the operation of the hotel andin 2009, that management contract was terminated. This made it possible for the formation for another Libyan company (LAICO) to run the Atlantic hotel. LAICO with its headquarters in Tunisia was registered in Liechtenstein.

On paper LAFICO and LAICO are different companies however, in reality they are the same company sharing the same Board of Directors. LAFICO is the owning company while LAICO is the management company. LAICO received management and marketing fees of more than 180, 000.00 Euro, a form of transfer pricing getting money out of the country.
While stubbornly refusing to honour their financial obligations with Government and pay the overdue USD 1.2 million, the owners of LAICO Atlantic Hotel were transferring huge amounts of money out of the country, over 700, 00.00 euro(about D 30 million)were transferred to various accounts abroad. All the transfers were made from BSIC Bank where theLAFICO account has only one signatory, a blatantviolation of the country’s banking regulations.

Details of those questionable transfers revealed thatover 125, 000 .00 euro was sent to AL BWAREJ GENERAL TRADING a company based in Dubai and about 200,000. 00 euro to AL GADIR ENTERPRISES, a locally registered business in the Gambia selling building materials at Old Jeshwang. In fulfilment of the requirement to have the LAFICO accounts audited annually, they have to provide forged documents to justify these huge movements of foreign currencies out of the country. Hence the falsification of documents attached.

As you can see from the attached transfer letter for 82, 380.00 euro, the only justification provided is a piece of paper for the MD’s salary accruals for six months. This amount equivalent to D 3, 054, 840.00 if divided into six months you will get D 509, 140.00salaries per month which is unrealistic. The average salary for Gambians working at the hotel is D 2, 500.00.There are serious tax issues with all those transfers. In the bank statement enclosed, you will notice that this 82, 380.00 euro was actually transferred to Al Bwarej General Trading in Dubai on 14th March 2012.

Honourable Minister of Justice, I believe in your patriotism and your commitment to justice and I have gone through some of the remarkable judgements you made while serving as High Court Judge this gave me the confidence that you will treat this matter seriously to put a stop to the economic exploitation by foreign investors who cared less about the consequences of their illicit actions and are only interested to take all the money generated from the country to their overseas account under questionable circumstances.

Contrary to the law governing foreign owned businesses, there is not a single Gambian in the management or the board of Directors of LAICO.A close monitoring of the numerous accounts currently maintained at the BSIC Bank could reveal the colossal amount of foreign money that are leaving our shores which no doubt is contributing to the foreign currency problems the country is presently faced with. While they continue to entertain top Government officials, as they always say, they always get away with anything they want in this country. Take for example paying D 114,000.00 for alien Work Permit for three peopleand obtaining a forged Government receipt for it from the Immigration Department when D 5,400.00 only should have been paid showed how far these people get away with anything in the Gambia. Copies of all those fraud with immigration are also attached.

With the revised tax liabilities of D46 million now owed to Government as a result of tax evasion and the USD 1.2 million yet to be paid, it will be necessary to take all appropriate measures now to force them to fully settle all outstanding government’s debts especially when they continue transferring significant amount of foreign currencies abroad. There are hundreds of Gambians who are directly dependent on Atlantic hotel and any measures taken to save their jobs will be seen in the national interest. I have no doubt that if this matter reaches the kind attention of His Excellency, The President of The Republic you will be commended.

I understand the consequences of giving out false information to public officers but I can assure you in this Holy Month that all the information are the truth and I can provide supporting documentation to prove these allegations.My concern for the clandestine operations moving exceptionally huge foreign currencies out of our country is more important to me than another other concerns.
I wish you a very blessed Ramadan and may Allah continue to guide and protect you with your new responsibilities. I am sure you will excel in your noble job as a Minister of Justice with a difference.
With my highest respect,

Momodou Gaye

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