Ebrima Njie dupes the State:- GRA boss tells the Tax Commission
Monday, April 02, 2012
Bakary Sanyang, the commissioner general of the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) last Wednesday, 28th March 2012 told the Tax Commission, chaired by Justice Mama Fatima Singhateh, that one Ebrima Njie‘s under-valuing his two properties situated in Kotu was a premeditated act to cheat or dupe the state.
The commissioner general disclosed that the said Ebrima Njie sold two properties to one Bacamara Sumbundu measuring 150m X 42m X 157m X 42m and another measuring 35m X 194.90m X 86m X 100.20m X 25m X 76.50m for D700, 000 and D900, 000 respectively.
Sanyang further explained that the said assessment was brought to him sometime in 2005, whilst he was deputy commissioner at the Domestic Tax Department, GRA.
He also admitted he conducted the assessment of both properties based on the declaration of the vendor, Ebrima Njie on the capital gains tax returns form. He said the size of the property 150m X 42m, in which the vendor declared D700, 000 is 6, 457.5 square meters. Using the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Local Government and Lands, Sanyang adduced that the minimum value of the said property is about D9, 686, 252.
He however pointed out that he doesn’t k now the market value of the said property at the time, but he only used his best of judgment. According to him, the vendor, Ebrima Njie was brought to his office by the police and a new assessment was conducted in 2009.
At that juncture, two documents relating to the correspondence in reassessment of the said properties were tendered and admitted as exhibits. Sanyang pointed out that the basis of his assessment on the properties was as a result of fresh confession of the parties made at the police.
Meanwhile, the Commission ordered the GRA commissioner general to furnish the said Commission with copies of the capital gains tax returns on the said properties relating to the transaction between the vendor, Ebrima Njie and the purchaser, Bacamara Sumbundu on the 2nd April 2012.
For his part, Lawyer O.D Mbye, who was summoned to explain his role in the said transaction between the vendor, Ebrima Njie and the purchaser, Bacamara Sumbundu, said he prepared two deeds of assignment in respect of the two properties in Kotu.
Lawyer O.D Mbye further said he was engaged by the vendor, Ebrima Njie, who was brought to him by one Modou Ceesay and he prepared two agreements in respect of two separate plots of land, adding that prior to the preparation of the deeds, he never had cause to visit place. Lawyer Mbye adduced that it was the vendor Ebrima Njie, who informed him that the prices of the two plots were D700, 000 and D900, 000 and the buyer concurred.
Mbye said the property of D4.8M was prepared with the said
amount of D700, 000 written on it, whilst the property sold for D8.5M was
prepared with D900, 000 written on it. He declared that he never knew that the two properties were
sold by Ebrima Njie at D4.8M and D8.5M respectively, adding that he did not
play any role in the payment of the capital gains tax for the said properties.
He denied the vendor’s claim that one of the agreements relating to the transaction of the properties were forged. The witness noted that the two agreements were signed in his office, adding that the issue of one of the agreements being forged was far-fetched. Mbye pointed out that both the vendor and the buyer were accompanied to his office by one Modou Ceesay, who served as a witness.
Lawyer Emmanuel Chime, a private legal practitioner who appeared before the said Tax Commission to explain his role in the transaction between one Neneh Jallow and Remeh Jagne described the said transaction as another act of deception perpetrated by Remeh Jagne into deluding Neneh Jallow giving her (Neneh) compound documents to obtain loan from the bank.
Emmanuel Chime adduced that the said property did not move, adding that not even a single butut has passed from Remeh Jagneto the owner of the property (Neneh Jallow) in respect of the said transaction.
Chime revealed that he knew Remeh Jagne who once worked with him. He furhter stated that in 2010 Remeh Jagne came to his office with Neneh Jallow, accompanied by one Pa Modou Saine, requesting that Neneh Jallow assigned her property situated at Kerr Serign, worth over D6.8M to her.
Chime said when he asked them why Neneh Jallow wanted to
assign the property to Remeh Jagne, he was surprised when Remeh Jagne told him
that they wanted to use the property to obtain loan from the bank and go into
He revealed that they wanted him to transfer the said property to Remeh Jagne, but he refused and that after several approaches and insistence from Neneh Jallow, he then prepared a deed of gift. The privte legal practitioner said this proposal was rejected by the GRA, adding that he then advised Neneh Jallow to withdraw from the deal.
Chime went on to adduce that after they were refused by the GRA, they came back to him and asked him to put the sum of D230, 000 in the assignment. Before preparing the assignment, he said, he prepared an agreement. A copy of the agreement between Neneh Jallow and Remeh Jagne, dated the 30th July 2010 was tendered and admitted as exhibit.
He disclosed that one Pa Modou Saine was contracted by Remeh Jagne to pay for the capital gains tax, stamp duty and some other tax related fees. Chime further disclosed that the purpose of the transaction was to enable Remeh Jagne secure a loan of about D2, 000, 000 from Bank PHB but to his greatest surprise, Remeh Jagne went to Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) to obtain a four million Dalasis (D4M) loan.
Emmanuel Chime asserted that the moment Remeh Jagne got hold of the property documents, she broke relations with Neneh Jallow and they bore malice till date. When asked about the receipts, Emmanuel Chime revealed that they were in Remeh Jagne’s possession, adding that she had used the said documents to obtain loan from GTBank, instead of going to Bank PHB as agreed by the parties.
Director of Lands and Survey
Malamin Jatta, the Director of Lands and Survey appeared before the Commission and apologised for not attending the Commission’s sittings on the 26th March 2012. Jatta explained that he was in another court as a witness and could not make it to the Commission.
His department, he said is responsible for the general administration of lands within the state land and the preparation of lease within the entire country. The capital gains tax, he informed is determined and collected by the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA), that the Lands department does not have a hand in the the collection of capital gains tax.
He revealed that the valuation of land helpsGRA in determining the capital gains tax. Jatta further revealed that the Lands department once prepared a guideline for GRA for use in assessing and preparing capital gains tax in 2008 and that the said guideline was made upon the request of the GRA.
Jatta produced a document on the supplementary technical assistance on the evaluation, which he said was discussed and given to the late GRA boss, Tambajang, dated the 23rd May 2008 and the said document was tendered and admitted as MJ1. The director of Lands was then given the said guideline and after perusing the content, he was told that there was discrimination in the prices and location of properties in the said guideline prepared by his department.
Jatta responded that the discrimination in the price and location of properties were based purely on comparative valuation method. He disclosed that majority of properties in Banjul is freehold, which the government doesn’t have much say in, adding that the freehold properties has the highest value and that it is only in Tobacco Road area in Banjul that is mostly on leasehold.
The director of Lands asserted that the Land Sales Committee chaired by the Minister of Finance was created after complaints from the public regarding discriminating sale and profit making process of some vendors. He further asserted that the guideline made in 2008 was no longer valid, adding that there is need to be reviewed.
Jatta revealed that presently, the prices of properties in Bijilo, Kerr Serign, Brusubi, Tranquil, Kololi and Kotu should have been higher now than stated in the guideline.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Louise Gillen, Deputy Commissioner Mamoud Joof, Senior Tax Officer Malamin Jatta and Tax Manager Ramatoulie Harr Ceesay testified before the said Commission to explain their roles and the parameters used in assessing capital gains tax.
These witnesses revealed that their assessments were mostly based on the information declared by the clients. They pointed out that they sometimes resort to using the guideline from the Ministry of Local Government and Lands when they have doubts regarding the information on the declaration of capital gains returns form.
Author: Sidiq Asemota