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17 counts Forgery, Conspiracy & Tax Evasion for Richard Konteh & Co

By Salifu Conteh

Three accused persons, Alie Suma (1st accused), Managing Director of Timber Harvesters, Processors and Exporters (SL) Company, Chief of Staff State House, Dr. Richard Konteh (2nd accused) and Leslie Peter Crosby (3rd accused) Custom Officer, who were arraigned on seventeen counts (17) were yesterday 27th June 2014, refused bail and remanded at the Pademba Road Prison. The accused persons appeared before Magistrate Komba Kamanda were charged with the offenses of Conspiracy to defraud, forgery contrary to section 4 (1) of the forgery Act 1913, Uttering forged document contrary to section 6(1) and (2) of the Forgery Act 1913, and willful evasion of Export Duty contrary to section 77© of the Customs Act 2011.

The 1st accused Alie Suma was charged on all seventeen counts, 2nd accused Dr. Richard Konteh charged on two counts (Conspiracy and Forgery) and Leslie Peter Crosby 3rd accused on one count of conspiracy.

richard and co

The accused persons were represented by defense of Attorneys including Lawyer M.P. Sesay, C.F Edwards Esq., Melron Nicol-Wilson Esq. and Pa Momoh Fofanah Esq., whilst the state was represented by State prosecutors led by Lawyer Monfred Sesay.

In his testimony as led by Lawyer Monfred Sesay, Prosecution Witness one (PW1), Acting Director of Forestry Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) Mr. William Bangura, informed the court about some of his duties and define Value Added Timber. This he said it is a tree that is cut and goes through series of machinery processes whereby the original round form changed to different shapes and dimensions as required by the end user. He also recognizes the document titled Public Notice from the Agriculture Ministry, which was about to be tendered in court.

The defense Attorneys objected at this stage, on the grounds that the document is not the original copy.

In response the prosecution said in law is to establish the nexus between the document and witness, and there must be three connections: the maker/author, custodian and the recipient. He added that the witness had said that the document was from MAFFS and he (PW1) is the Acting Director had also stated that he had the original copy in his file, therefore, the prosecution went on, the witness had fulfill the legal processes.

In his ruling, Magistrate Kamanda said the fact that PW1 is Acting Director doesn’t warrant quick acceptance and in such matters the original is required.

The witness then produced the original document which was tendered and marked as Exhibit A to form part of the court records.

PW1 proceeded in his testimony as led and produced another document Title: Letter from the Chief of Staff of State House, adding that the said document is a copy he found in the file of his predecessor (now deceased).

The defence Attorney also objected on the grounds that the substance of count 2, 3 and 4 are premises on the offense of forged documents and the substance is a letter written by the 2nd accused which must be tendered in its original form, also that there is no sound bases in Law that has been laid for the witness to tender such document giving that he is neither a recipient nor author.

In reply the prosecution said the document forms the subject matter of counts 2,3 and 4.

The court upheld the objection made by the defense since the original was not in court.

The defence applied for bail citing relevant sections but was vehemently opposed by the prosecution, and all accused persons were remanded in custody.

The particulars of offense on the count of Conspiracy alleged that all accused persons (Alie Suma, Dr. Richard Konteh and Leslie Peter Crosby) on diverse dates between the 1st February and the 31st May, 2014 in the Freetown Judicial district, in the Western area of the Republic of Sierra Leone, with intent to defraud, conspired together and with other persons unknown to evade payment of export duty to the tune of Four Billion, Forty Five Million, Eight Hundred and Eighty Two Thousand and Twenty Leones (Le 4,045,882,020.00) being export duty in respect of Six Hundred and Fourteen (614) x20 Ft containers of value added Timber by falsely pretending that the said Alie Suma, Managing Director of Timber harvesters, processors and exporters (SL) Ltd Company had authority to export the said quantity of value added Timber and that the said export duty had been paid. Count 2, Forgery reads that 1st accused, Alie Suma, Managing Director of Timber Harvesters, Processors and Exporters (SL) Ltd. Company and Dr. Richard Konteh on a date unknown between 1st and 28th February, 2014 in Freetown with intent to defraud, forged a certain document to wit: A Letter Titled “Export of Value Added Processed Timber” dated 26th February, 2014, purporting to show that an open-ended clearance was granted to the said Alie Suma, to Export Value added processed Timber. Count 3, Uttering forged document, states that 1st accused on 27th February, 2014in Freetown Uttered a certain forged document supporting to be a Letter from the Office of the Chief of Staff given  clearance to export unlimited number of containers of value added Timber, knowing same to be forged and with intent to defraud. Count 4, Uttering forged document reads that 1st accused on a date unknown between the 1st February and the 31st day of March, 2014 in Freetown did utter a certain forged document purporting to be a Letter from the Office of the Chief of Staff given clearance to export unlimited number of containers of value added timber, knowing same to be forged and with intent.

On count 5, Uttering forged document, reads that 1st accused on a date unknown between 1st and 28th February, 2014, in Freetown did utter a certain forged document, purporting to be a Letter from the office of the Chief of Staff given clearance to export unlimited number of containers of value added Timber, knowing same to be forged and with intent to defraud. Count 6, Uttering, forged Document, that 1st accused on a date unknown between the 1st and 28th February, 2014 in Freetown uttered a certain forged document purporting to be a letter from the office Chief of Staff given clearance to export unlimited number of containers of value added Timber, knowing same to be forged and with intent to defraud. Count 7, Uttering forged document, states that 1st accused on a date unknown between the 1st and 28th February 2014 in Freetown uttered a certain forged document purporting to be a letter from the office of the Chief of Staff given clearance to export unlimited number of containers of value added Timber, knowing same to be forged and with intent to defraud.

Continues on count 8, Willful Evasion of Export duty, reads that 1st accused on between 1st February and 31st May, 2014 in Freetown, evaded export tax duty of one Hundred and Ninety One Million, Sixty One Thousand Five Hundred and Seventy Leones (Le 191,061,570.00) for Twenty Nine (29) x20 Ft containers said to contain value added processed Timber. Count 9, Willful Evasion of Export Duty, reads that 1st accused between 1st February and 31st May, 2014 in Freetown evaded export duty of the value of Four Hundred and Fifty Four Million, Five Hundred and Ninety Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy Leones (Le 454,594,770.00) For Sixty- Nine (69) x20 ft containers said to contain value added processed Timber. Count 10 of Willful evasion of export duty also reads that 1st accused between 1st February and 31st May, 2014 in Freetown evaded export tax duty of One Hundred and Seventy One Million, Two Hundred and Ninety Six thousand Five Hundred and Eighty Leones (Le 171,296,580.00) for Twenty- six (26) x20 ft containers said to contain value added processed Timber

On the same offense on count 11, reads that 1st accused between 1st February and 31st May, 2014 in Freetown did evade export duty of the value of Five Hundred and Sixty Six Million, Five Hundred and Ninety Six thousand Three Hundred and Eighty Leones (Le 566,596,380.00) for Eighty Six (86) x20 ft containers said to contain value added processed Timber. Count 12 on the same offence states that 1st accused between 1st February and 31st May, 2014 in Freetown Evaded Export Duty of the value of Two Hundred and Twenty Four Million, Three Thousand Two Hundred and Twenty Leones (Le 224,003,220.00) for Thirty four (34) x20 Ft containers said to contain value added processed Timber. Count 13 of the same offense reads that 1st accused between 1st February and 31st May, 2014 in Freetown evaded export duty of the value of Five Hundred and Eighty Six Million, three Hundred and Sixty One Thousand three Hundred and Seventy Leones (Le 586,361,370.00) for Eighty-six (86) x20 ft containers said to contain value added processed Timber.

The offense continues on count 14, states that the 1accused, between 1st February and 31st May, 2014 in Freetown evaded Export Duty of the value of One Hundred and Ninety One Million, Sixty One Thousand Five Hundred and Seventy Leones (Le 191,061,570.00) for Twenty- nine (29) x20 ft containers said to contain value added processed Timber. Count 15 of the same offense reads that 1st accused between 1st February and 31st May, 2014 in Freetown evaded export duty of value of three Hundred and Forty Nine Million, One Hundred and Eighty One thousand four Hundred and Ninety Leones (Le 349,181,490.00) for fifty-three (53) x20 ft containers said to contain value added processed Timber. Count 16 of the same reads that 1st accused between 1st February and 31st May, 2014 in Freetown did evade export duty of value of One Hundred and Thirty One Million Seven Hundred and Sixty Six Thousand Six Hundred Leones (Le 131,766,600.00) for Twenty (20) x20ft containers said to contain value added processed timber. On the last counts of the same offense reads that the 1st accused between 1st February and 31st May, 2014 in Freetown evaded Export Duty of the value of One Billion, One Hundred and Seventy Nine Million Three Hundred and Eleven Thousand and Seventy Leone (Le 1,179,311,070.00) for One Hundred and Seventy Nine (179) x20ft containers said to contain value added processed Timber.

The matter continues.

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