With Lamin Cham
The Standard has laid hands on the much-awaited findings of the police investigations into the Gambia Football Federation, GFF, tax fraud allegations.
The investigation was conducted by the Gambia Police Force on the request of the National Assembly Select Committee on Sports, which recommended that the most competent body to determine fraud is the police.
This followed accusation by the NSC that the GFF defrauded the nation by not withholding tax amounting to over D900, 000 on a contract awarded to General Procurement Services among others.
The GFF has always denied any wrong doing accusing the Sports Council and the NA Select Committee of comprising people well known to be opposition football stakeholders who are using their offices to witch- hunt them.
The police took two weeks to investigate the matter and according to the opinion of the police, after gathering all the facts and information from interviews with key people and institutions The Gambia Football Federation GFF deliberately failed to deduct withholding tax.
The report also highlighted that according to the tax act, the Commissioner General of the GRA has two options, which are to take legal action or recover within six years the said sum and penalty charged on it.
For purpose of clarity the entire opinion of the police investigators on the tax fraud, the dictates of the tax act outlining the options of the Commissioner General to recover the sum is reproduced below:
OPINION: In light of the above findings and facts gathered during the course of the investigation the panel is with the opinion that;
From the facts of the case, it Is evident that Gambia Football Federation (GFF) contracted General Procurement Services (GPS) and Idea Ltd to furnish and equip the GFF National Technical Training Center (FIFA Goal PROJECT) situated at Old Yundum at an amount of D9,593, 100.00 and D1,278, 624.00 respectively It was clearly highlighted on the contract documents that the contract sum was taxable thus, making it an obligation on GFF to withhold 10% of the whole contracts sum which amounts to D959, 310 and D127, 862.40 respectively and remit it to GRA within 15 days after the payment was effected as required by section 89 (3) and 94 of the income and value added tax act, 2012 which states that;
89 (3). “A person who retains the service of a contractor or sub- contractor to carry out work, supply labour or materials for carrying out the work shall withhold tax at the rate of 10% of the gross fee or other payments made to the contractor or sub- contractor in respect of the service.”
Section 94 further stated that, “Tax required to be withheld by a person under this sub-part shall be paid to the Commissioner General within fifteen days after the end of the month the person was required to withheld the tax”
From the above definition it is evident that GFF were required by law to withhold the said tax from two contracts sums and remit it to GRA which they failed to do. Though, it have been claimed by GFF that it was an oversight from their side which prompted them to write to the contractors asking them to pay tax due to Government. However, during the course of the investigation it has been disclosed that at the time the Project Manager was writing to the GPS to pay the 10% withholding tax due, the final 30% payment due to GPS amounting to $87 556.08 was yet to be disbursed which has been confirmed by both the GFF Finance Director and the then GFF General Secretary Mr. Abass Bah and equally the GFF statement of account. To this regard, the panel reasonably believes that the GFF deliberately failed to deduct the withholding tax on the part of GPS as advised by then Secretary General Abass Bah and GFF Finance Director Mr. Kemo Ceesay in accordance to Section 89 of the income and value added tax act, 2012 as defined above.
Also section 96 (1) (a) and (b) of the said act states that:-
1) If a person fails to withheld tax as required under this sub-part,
The commissioner general may recover the tax from
a) The persons required to withheld the tax or
b) The recipient of the payment.
Looking at the above section, the Commissioner General has two options to recover the said 10% withholding tax which was supposed to be withheld by the GFF. That is from the person required to withhold the tax or the recipient of the payment.
However, section 96 (2) states that “the recovery of tax under paragraph (b) of sub section (1) does not absolve the person who failed to withhold the tax from
a. Any other legal action in relation to the failure
b. The imposition of the late payment interest and penalty for the failure
During the course of the investigation, the panel was informed by GRA through a letter dated 3rd July 2018 that they have contacted GFF on the matter by raising an assessment for settlement of the tax 23rd December 2017 as it was due and GFF at the time opted to recover the withholding tax from General Procurement Services. And they further clarified that the Commissioner General has six years within which he can pursue his recovery efforts and such efforts are ongoing to ensure that the tax due to the state is fully recovered.
Meanwhile the police confirmed last month that the report has been sent to the Attorney Generals Chambers and the National Select Committee on Sports. The Standard could not confirm the position of the AG Chambers on the matter but the National Assembly Select Committee, upon receipt of the Police report wrote to the National Sports Council NSC, the regulatory body of Sports to take action. The letter did not however specify or recommend which action.