The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), collaborating with law enforcement officers, has caught ‘red-handed’ one of its employees assigned at the LRA Customs Business Office at the Freeport of Monrovia, in the act of extortion and bribery.
Mr. Joseph Weeks, an Assessor, was captured on Closed Circuit (CC) TV taking a bribe of US$500 which he had demanded from a taxpayer and has been charged with bribery by the LNP, and will be forwarded to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) for prosecution.
A taxpayer, Mr. Abraham Sinayoko, returning from the US, complained Mr. Weeks of extortion to the LRA Commissioner General. Mr. Sinayoko said though he had paid all taxes and requirements in the amount of US$4,600 on his personal effects in a container he brought from the United States , he was being asked for a bribe by Mr. Weeks before his container could be released.
Mr. Sinayoko complained that his documents were seized by Mr. Weeks on ground that an additional assessment was required on his container. Mr. Weeks reportedly requested Mr. Sinayoko to pay an extra US$2,300.(two thousand three hundred USD) but later settled down for a negotiated amount of US$1,000.
Following the complaint to the Commissioner General, LRA Senior Security Consultant and the Professional Ethics Division, launched an undercover operations involving the Liberia National Police and the Liberia Seaport Police.
Mr. Weeks was caught red handed on CCTV receiving US$500 bribe from a customs broker as he had advised the taxpayer to channel the money, and was subsequently arrested and charged by the Police.
The customs broker who served as the intermediary and absconded the scene, when caught, will be investigated and subsequently forwarded to the Liberia National Police.
The LRA herein profoundly thank the whistle blower, the Liberia Seaport Police and the National Police of Liberia for their switch cooperation which resulted in the arrest of the culprit with substantial evidence.
LRA Commissioner General Elfrieda Stewart Tamba has meanwhile called on the general public including the businesses community and taxpayers to report any form of dishonesty carried out by any employee of the LRA in the discharge of their duties. The LRA is taking all the necessary steps to curb this unwholesome behavior and solicits the help of all taxpayers and the general public in order to win the fight against corruption in the revenue sector and to collect the needed revenue for the people of Liberia.
Bribery and distortion are grave violations of the LRA professional and ethical handbook signed onto by all employees before assuming duties.