Gambia’s Foreign Minister and leader of the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP’S) Ousainou Darboe, has some back taxes to settle in tune of close to two million dalasis, according to a government White Paper Commission of Inquiry Report issued in October of 2013, the Freedom Newspaper can reveal. Mr. Darboe was among the list of prominent Gambian lawyers indicted by the Commission report for alleged tax evasion. The alleged unpaid taxes represents “ income, sales and payee taxpayers, that Mr. Darboe allegedly failed to pay, the Commission report stated.

The Gambian top diplomat contested the government’s findings as soon as he was confronted with the report. He was briefly held by the NIA, and later released. 

Lawyer Neneh Cham, representing Ousainou Darboe, told the judges that she filed a motion dated 9 July 2012 and on 10 July 2012 filed for a stay of execution, the Banjul based Point Newspaper reported on July 18th 2012. Mr. Darboe’s retained Accountant had earlier testified that his client had its income tax books intact.

Former Justice Joseph Wowo granted Mr. Darboe’s lawyer prayers for the execution of the Commission’s findings to be stayed pending the determination of his appeal. Similar rulings were delivered in the case of Fafa M’Bai, Amie Bensouda and Ida Drammeh.  

Story link ( http://thepoint.gm/africa/gambia/article/lawyers-appeal-against-adverse-findings-of-tax-commission)   

Although, the judge who was assigned to hear Darboe’s appeal against the Commission’s findings Joseph Wowo, was later arrested and jailed on corruption charges. Wowo is a Nigerian National. He was later granted presidential pardon by former dictator Yahya Jammeh.

As matters stand, Darboe’s appeal is still pending in the courts. He is yet to be exonerated by the courts. His prospects to present himself as a presidential candidate in future elections would be thwarted by the adverse alleged tax evasion findings against him. Plans are afoot to amend the age limit associated with the office of president and vice president to cater for aging folks like Darboe, Fatoumatta Tambajang Jallow and co to be able to serve in the presidency.

Under Gambian law, folks who owed taxes to the state are not qualified to run for president. This is the second time that Mr. Darboe has been accused of tax evasion. He had to be bailed out by his party in one of the past elections to clear his back taxes.

Meanwhile, the brother of Gambia’s Justice Minister Ba Tambadou, Sheriff Tambadou has also been indicted by the Commission report for not paying his taxes. Sheriff’s tax default centered around Capital Gain Taxes. He was said to have owed the state close to two hundred thousand dalasis. 

Mr. Darboe could not be reached for comment during the weekend.

The Commission report censored the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) management for abdication of duties. It also recommended for punitive legal action be taken against the wanting GRA Directors and Board Members at the time. The Minister of Finance was also blamed for the massive revenue loss that the state suffered as a result of the alleged tax evasion by the aforementioned people. 

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