Mos­ito bback in court f for tax evasieva­sion

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Tefo Tefo

THE Con­sti­tu­tional Court is to­day ex­pected to hear a case in which Court of Ap­peal Pres­i­dent Jus­tice Kananelo Mos­ito seeks to quash crim­i­nal charges lev­elled against him for al­legedly evad­ing tax for 19 years.

Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions (DPP) King’s Coun­sel Le­aba Thet­sane pre­ferred crim­i­nal charges against Jus­tice Mos­ito on 21 Au­gust 2015 for al­legedly not pay­ing tax for his le­gal firm from 1996 to 2014.

Jus­tice Mos­ito is charged with vi­o­lat­ing pro­vi­sions of the In­come Tax Act of 1993, and Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dure and Ev­i­dence Act of 1981.

Ac­cord­ing to the charges, Jus­tice Mos­ito never reg­is­tered with the tax author­i­ties as re­quired by the law and was only reg­is­tered with the Le­sotho Rev­enue Author­ity (LRA) as a tax­payer on 20 April this year.

How­ever, the Court of Ap­peal pres­i­dent on 30 Au­gust 2015 filed a con­sti­tu­tional case to have the charges dropped.

In ad­di­tion to the ap­pli­ca­tion, the court is also ex­pected to hear Jus­tice Mos­ito’s prayer for the LRA to be com­pelled to dis­close the tax sta­tus of fel­low judges and five se­nior lawyers.

Jus­tice Mos­ito claims the judges and lawyers in ques­tion also evaded tax but were not charged, hence his ar­gu­ment the charges against him were dis­crim­i­na­tory and driven by mal­ice.

Jus­tice Mos­ito also wants the court to or­der the LRA and its boss to re­veal the names of tax­pay­ers listed in his ap­pli­ca­tion by their iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­bers and the dates on which they filed their in­di­vid­ual in­come tax re­turns be­tween 1996 and 2014.

In his af­fi­davit, Jus­tice Mos­ito al­leges the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­bers in ques­tion be­long to some top lawyers un­happy with his ap­point­ment as pres­i­dent of the Court of Ap­peal in Jan­uary this year.

“I aver that the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions has in­sti­tuted the pro­ceed­ings against me in­ter alia be­cause this is part of his re-

tal­ia­tory 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,” Jus­tice Mos­ito wrote in the 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 (At­tor­ney Gen­eral) had been out­spo­ken and com­bat­ive against me af­ter my ap­point­ment as Pres­i­dent of the Court of Ap­peal of Le­sotho.

“In his an­swer­ing af­fi­davit, the DPP pointed out the fact 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 would not be dif­fi­cult for him to have the said in­for­ma­tion, but could not put it be­fore the court due to “the se­crecy and con­fi­den­tial­ity pro­vi­sions of the In­come Tax Act 1993 and Le­sotho Rev­enue Author­ity Act 2001.”

The two laws, he added, de­mand that dis­clo­sure of such in­for­ma­tion could only be made by an or­der of a court of law.

How­ever, Jus­tice Mos­ito ar­gues de­spite th­ese laws, LRA of­fi­cials dis­closed his tax af­fairs to the po­lice and DPP “with­out an or­der of a com­pe­tent court au­tho­ris­ing them to do so”.

This rev­e­la­tion, he ar­gues, ren­ders his crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion un­law­ful.

He con­tin­ues: “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 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.

“I also aver 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 1996-2014.

“It is there­fore, ap­pro­pri­ate to call upon the re­spon­dents 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, be­fore the 30th of June.

“It will be clear that none of them has ever done it.

“Thus, the present pros­e­cu­tion against me is dis­crim­i­na­tory and se­lec­tive.”

Jus­tice Mos­ito has cited the LRA Com­mis­sioner Gen­eral and the LRA as first and sec­ond re­spon­dent, re­spec­tively.

Mean­while, dur­ing the same pro­ceed­ings, the court will hear Jus­tice Mos­ito’s chal­lenge of a let­ter writ­ten by Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili. The let­ter asked him to show cause why he should not be im­peached be­cause of the tax ac­cu­sa­tion.

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