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Businessman convicted for economic crime

Mar 28, 2012, 12:50 PM | Article By: Malamin Conteh

The Special Criminal Court in Banjul yesterday convicted and sentenced one Mam Sait Njie, a businessman, to pay a fine of D300,000 in default to serve 3 years in prison with hard labour, and another fine of D4.5 million in default to serve 6 years in prison with hard labour.

Delivering the judgment, Justice Emmanuel Nkea said that the accused had stated that the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation, SSHFC, had an obligation to pay the capital gains tax on his behalf.

He added that the accused also said he had paid all his taxes, adding that there was no evidence to show that the accused had declared the D30 million from the sale of land.

The judge in his judgment said the D30 million which should have been paid to the state by the accused was not paid which, he continued, had caused a great economic loss to The Gambia.

He further stated that he held it as a matter of fact that the prosecution had proven its case beyond all reasonable doubts, and therefore found the accused person guilty as charged.

Mitigation

Defence counsel Lamin S. Camara, in his mitigation plea, told the court that the convicted person, who is 62 years old, was a first-time offender, and he had never been in conflict with the law before.

He revealed to the court that Mam Sait Njie was twice decorated, with a medal by the Government of The Gambia, as well as by the Government of the Republic of Senegal.

Counsel Camara further stated that the accused is a philanthropist and has employed about 300 youths, and is also a prominent member of their mosque.

He then urged the court to temper justice with mercy on the convict.

Sentence

In passing sentence, the trial judge stated that the convicted person should be treated with leniency, adding that he must say that he had watched the demeanour of Mam Sait Njie throughout the trial, and had found that he was not remorseful to the court.

Tax evasion, Justice Nkea continued, is a serious crime which had caused a great economic problem in the West, adding that non-payment of tax must be discouraged to deter others from doing it.

He said the message he had for the businesspeople was that they must pay their taxes.

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