. . . im­pli­cates fel­low judges and lawyers in tax fraud

Lesotho Times - - News - Tefo Tefo

COURT of Ap­peal Pres­i­dent Jus­tice Kananelo Mos­ito says fel­low judges and some top lawyers have not paid in­come tax on time but he re­mains the only one charged for the al­leged of­fense be­cause of a “venge­ful cru­sade” by the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions (DPP).

To prove his point, the judge has re­quested the Con­sti­tu­tional Court to com­pel the Le­sotho Rev­enue Author­ity (LRA) to dis­close their tax sta­tus of all High Court and Court of Ap­peal judges, as well as five lawyers — Karabo Mo­hau, Motiea Teele, Sale­mane Phafane, Zwe­lakhe Mda and Qhale­hang Let­sika.

In a no­tice of mo­tion filed last Wed­nes­day, Dr Mos­ito wants LRA Com­mis­sioner Gen­eral Thabo Let­jama and the LRA “to dis­patch to this honourable court, in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing all judges of the High Court and/or Court of Ap­peal who have ever filed their in­di­vid­ual In­come Tax re­turns be­fore 30th June, for the fis­cal year span­ning 1996-2014.”

Jus­tice Mos­ito also wants the court to or­der the LRA to re­veal the tax sta­tus of the five lawyers for the pe­riod in ques­tion.

Dr Mos­ito said this ap­pli­ca­tion is re­lated to an­other one pend­ing be­fore the court in which he is chal­leng­ing the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of his pros­e­cu­tion for the late fil­ing of tax re­turns since 1998.

Reads his af­fi­davit: “I averred in the af­fi­davit that the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions has in­sti­tuted the pro­ceed­ings against me as part of his re­tal­ia­tory and venge­ful co­or­di­nated cru­sade in which he was in­volved with ad­vo­cates (Karabo) Mo­hau KC, (Motiea) Teele KC, (Sale­mane) Phafane KC, (Zwe­lakhe) Mda KC and At­tor­ney (Qhale­hang) Let­sika against me for rea­sons I have men­tioned in the said af­fi­davit.

“I did aver in the said af­fi­davit that this vi­o­lated my con­sti­tu­tional rights to equal pro­tec­tion of the law and free­dom from dis­crim­i­na­tion.

“The above-named le­gal prac­ti­tion­ers, to­gether with ad­vo­cates Thet­sane KC and (Tšokolo) Makhethe (KC), have been out­spo­ken and com­bat­ive against me af­ter my ap­point­ment as Pres­i­dent of the Court of Ap­peal of Le­sotho (in Jan­uary this year).

“In his an­swer­ing af­fi­davit, the DPP pointed out that the fact that my said erst­while col­leagues were guilty of ‘fis­cal Delin­quency’ had not come to his at­ten­tion. He then chal­lenged me to put for­ward ev­i­dence or facts upon which I based my said aver­ments.”

Jus­tice Mos­ito fur­ther says it is pos­si­ble for him to pro­vide the re­quested de­tails but would not be able to put the in­for­ma­tion be­fore the court “be­cause of the se­crecy and con­fi­den­tial­ity pro­vi­sions of the In­come Tax Act 1993 and the Le­sotho Rev­enue Author­ity Act 2001”.

The laws, he added, re­quire the dis­clo­sure of such in­for­ma­tion through a court or­der.

How­ever, Dr Mos­ito stated de­spite the pro­vi­sions of the law, the LRA dis­closed his tax af­fairs to the po­lice and DPP “with­out an or­der of a com­pe­tent court”.

He also noted the fact that the LRA re­vealed the in­for­ma­tion to the po­lice and DPP with­out a court or­der ren­ders his crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion un­law­ful.

“Armed with the above in­for­ma­tion, I have had to make my own in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tions to dis­cover whether th­ese lawyers with whom we have en­joyed a sim­i­lar sta­tus of King’s Coun­sel, have re­li­giously filed tax re­turns in due time in or­der to strengthen my point that the pre­ferred crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion against me is ac­tu­ated by mal­ice.

“I have had to in­ves­ti­gate and come up with the said ad­vo­cates’ tax iden­tity num­bers in or­der to prove the point that they have not re­li­giously filed theirs on time dur­ing the fis­cal years span­ning 1996-2014.

“It is re­gret­table that the cru­sade mounted against me has to re­sult in my hav­ing to dis­close the re­sults of my in­ves­ti­ga­tion in or­der to prove to this honourable court that the above-named le­gal prac­ti­tion­ers have also not filed their re­turns as re­quired and yet they have not been pros­e­cuted for rea­sons given in my found­ing pa­pers in the main case.”

Jus­tice Mos­ito also says none of the High Court and Court of Ap­peal judges “ever con­sis­tently filed their in­di­vid­ual in­come tax re­turns on time ac­cord­ing to the find­ings of my in­ves­ti­ga­tions for the fis­cal year span­ning the pe­riod 1996-2014”.

He adds: “It is, there­fore, ap­pro­pri­ate to call upon the re­spon­dents (Mr Let­jama and the LRA) to dis­close to this honourable court in­for­ma­tion and doc­u­ments re­lat­ing to the tax af­fairs of the above honourable judges re­gard­ing whether they ever filed such re­turns dur­ing the pe­riod un­der con­sid­er­a­tion. It will be clear that none of them has ever done it.

“Thus, the present pros­e­cu­tion against me is dis­crim­i­na­tory and se­lec­tive. I am very much per­turbed in the light of the fact that I was the only judge in this ju­ris­dic­tion whose tax af­fairs were in­ter­ro­gated un­der the cir­cum­stances which I have al­ready sketched above,” he noted.

The de­fen­dants have not yet re­sponded to the ap­pli­ca­tion and a hear­ing date has not been set.

Jus­tice Mos­ito was ap­pointed Pres­i­dent of the Court of Ap­peal on 15 Jan­uary 2015 and sworn-in on 27 Jan­uary 2015.

Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili has since asked him to “show cause” why he should not be fired be­cause of the tax-al­le­ga­tion against him.

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