Monrovia – This paper has reliably learnt that the Government of Liberia is resolved on filing a lawsuit against the management of APM Terminals for allegedly defrauding it of millions in United States dollars for auxiliary service fees collected between the period February 2011 and July 2019.
According to our source, the government of Liberia, through the Internal Audit Agency, recently completed a reconciliation audit of NPA and APM Terminals on fees collected by APM Terminals, as well as royalties remitted to NPA management, considering quantity of items handled or services performed. The audit was accordingly based upon a request from the management of the National Port Authority to the IAA.
Following the reconciliation audit, it was reportedly established that APM Terminals received an aggregate collected revenue valued US$29,607,017.48 without remittance to the National Port Authority (NPA).
Our source further indicated that when queried on its failure to remit to the NPA auxiliary service fees collected on aggregate in keeping with the Concession Agreement signed with the government of Liberia, APM Terminals stated that total revenue for the items with 0% concession fees as unearthed by the auditors, was misaligned with the reports that were shared with the auditors; but that they would have provided the correct amounts at the soonest possible time. The APM Terminals accordingly failed to provide the correct amounts as promised, until the final audit report was concluded.
Surprisingly, documents in the possession of this paper point to the somersaulting of APM Terminals by providing another argument in an email exchange which we also have, indicating that clauses 7.07 (a) and (b) of the concession agreement precludes it from computing and paying concession fees on auxiliary revenues.
To the contrary, our investigation has established that revenue line created by APM Terminals and referred to as Auxiliary revenue comprises of services that are directly identified under Container Throughput Handling as referenced in appendix 10 of the concession agreement.
Some of the services identified under Container Throughput Handling which have been deliberately shifted to Auxiliary revenue by APM Terminals include: 40’ Import Reefer Full, 40’ Export Reefer Full, 40’ Import/Export reefer Empty, 20’ Transshipment Reefer Full, 20’ Transshipment Reefer Empty, 40’ Transshipment Reefer Full, 40’ Transshipment Reefer Empty, etc.
Our sources furthered that, like in the case of Storage fees, there is no Concession rate mentioned for remittance of Auxiliary revenues; however, APM Terminals have been using Concession rates stipulated for Container Throughput Handling of 22.8% and General Cargo handling of 18.8% to remit on Storage fees.
As such, the government reportedly believes that this precedence of assigning Concession rates in the case not mentioned would have proven consistency in remittance if followed in the case of Auxiliary revenue.
Therefore, our sources have hinted that the government of Liberia has detested APM Terminals’ justification on grounds that remittance of royalties in accordance with the Concession fees is subject to income generated on Services Rates. That remittances are made on Containers Throughput Handling, General Cargo Handling, Marine Services and Weigh Bridge, provides sufficient reasons for remitting on auxiliary revenue.
Sources within the government have said that the government of Liberia has argued that the fact that APM Terminals normally remits royalty on storage fees on concession rates that are not specifically mentioned in the Concession agreement, it is logical to similarly remit to government on auxiliary revenue based on applicable concession rates.
Amidst the tight financial and economic space in the country, should this legal action be perfected against the APM Terminals, sources in the circle of the government of Liberia are hopeful of GoL gaining over Twenty-nine million United States dollars in remittances on auxiliary fees denied it for the last eight years.