The Commissioner-General of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), Thomas Doe Nah has described allegation against LRA by a local media as ‘misleading report’. Doe-Nah said the original document was ‘doctored so as to paint a negative image of the LRA.
He told a news conference on Tuesday that the report by FrontPage Africa Newspaper indicated that several millions of dollars were missing from the government’s transitory account. Moreover, he said the LRA has never conducted an audit of the bank as indicated by the paper, rather, the memo which the paper released, was an internal memo that called for review.
Doe-Nah said he was shocked to read that what was considered as a private conversation between him and a senior editor of the paper was later released to the public. “He has told me that our conversation was private. But to my surprise, he screenshots it and later made it public. But as a person with media background, I decided to delete our conversation,” he said.
He said the original internal memo was doctored by the paper. “For instance, the subject of the doctored memo subject states: IA’s report on the audit of direct transfer payments at commercial banks. On the original memo from LRA, subject states: IA’s report on the review of direct transfer payments at commercial banks,” he added.
According to him, when FPA sent him a message on WhatsApp for clarity, “We invited them to come so we can explain what they wanted to know. But instead, they refused and went ahead to publish.”
“It hurts me when the media, for reasons best known to themselves, try to insinuate or try to twist activities of the LRA to focus on the death of our two falling colleagues. But what is even more serious is for a media entity like FrontPage Africa who is expected to value integrity and report truthfulness to get involved in falsification of documents to meet their own selfish aim,” he said.
He said payments made into the transitory account at various commercial banks for onward submission to the Central bank are accounted for and there was no missing cash.
Doe-Nah said after the publication of the story by the FPA, they continued with more publications.
It can be recalled that on November 16, 2020 edition of the FrontPage Africa carried a story captioned, “Liberia: Millions of Taxpayers’ Money Missing at Central Bank of Liberia Auditors Discovered”. In the story, it indicated that an audit conducted discovered over the three-year period US$17,580,280.37 and L$2,346,657,844 of taxes paid into transitory accounts at various commercial banks were not remitted to the consolidated general account at the Central Bank of Liberia.
He said for instance, on paragraph two of the FPA document states: “The Internal Audit performed this audit for the purposes of ascertaining the accuracy, completeness, reliability and validity of amount taxes commercial banks collected and remitted to GOL’s CGRA at the CBL in accordance with memorandum of Understanding.”
For the original memo on the same paragraph two, it states: “The Commissioner-General commissioned this review for purposes of ascertaining the accuracy, completeness, reliability and validity of amount taxes commercial banks collected and remitted to GOL’s CGRA at the CBL in accordance with memorandum of Understanding.
The publication indicates that for the year 2017, revenue transactions amounting to US$2,043,813.75 and LD$327,130,712.16 on commercial banks’ statements were not captured in the 2017 CBL swift confirmation reports and therefore not reflected in the government’s Consolidated General Revenue Account.
Doe-Nah said as a person from transparency background, he decided to take his office Desktop computer to the ministry to show to journalist traces of email related to the memo. “I did this so you will see the email traces from James Kerkula, Chief Audit Executive that he sent to me.”
Asked if he would take any legal action against the paper, he said, “As a person from media background, I am calling on the Press Union of Liberia and the Council of Churches to send a representative along with FPA to look at these two documents. If FPA does not retract the story, we have other options for recourse.”