Liberian campaigners fight fraud to recover $100,000 in tax

Liberia is rich in natural resources, including iron ore, diamonds, gold, timber and rubber. But these riches have not translated into the provisioning of quality society services, including adequate healthcare. The country spends only US $6 per person per year on basic services, and its health system was ill equipped to address the Ebola outbreak in 2014 that resulted in more than 4,800 deaths and brought the country’s economy to a standstill.

When the Liberian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI) published its first report in 2009, it revealed that the mining company AmLib had failed to pay the government $104,288 in withholding tax.

In response, the Liberian chapter of Publish What You Pay (PWYP) organised town hall meetings, produced radio programs, orchestrated street theatre events, authored newspaper articles, and put up posters in all public buildings to educate ordinary Liberians about the economic contributions of extractives companies and the missing resource revenues.

As a result of pressure from civil society and other members of the LEITI Multi-stakeholder Steering Group, AmLib conducted an internal investigation that revealed that its employees had misapplied $104,288 due to the government and fabricated ministerial receipts.

AmLib agreed to pay the government the missing $104,288, and took steps to improve its internal financial procedures. AmLib representatives attended town hall meetings to explain what had happened and to describe the measures it had taken to prevent future misappropriations of funds.

Key Lessons:

  • High public awareness of the role of extractive companies (their financial and non-financial contributions) creates an atmosphere of accountability and puts pressure on companies to address fraud and corruption cases.
  • Publishing financial information by individual company allows for holding company to account and for immediate addressing of any wrongdoings.

Website: http://www.leiti.org.lr

Photo credit: Erik Cleves Kristensen