Though Jaffer Zeghir’s covert move to evade government tax in the petroleum sector was exposed and halted by the reputable Leonoil Company Limited, yet, the Court, in its ruling has overlooked such an obvious breach.

This dishonest act by SKM Enterprise is considered a very serious crime that is punishable under the laws of the State. Had it not been for the stringent measures instituted by Leonoil, Jaffer would have evaded huge taxes with impunity. Leonoil made this startling revelation while setting the record straight on malicious publications against the company and its CEO Mr. Ibrahim Cole following a Court’s ruling. The publications calculatingly misled the public on the facts and implications associated with the claims made.

The dispute between Leonoil and SKM Enterprise started three years ago, when Jaffer Zeghir, the Chief Executive Officer of SKM, paid for 430,000 litres of fuel of which 230,000 litres were uplifted.

Thereafter, several calls were made to Jaffer informing him of an imminent change of price by the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) via the National Revenue Authority (NRA), hence, pleaded with him to collect his remaining 200,000 litres with immediate effect. After dodging several calls, Jaffer finally informed Leonoil that his stations and his bulk road vehicles (trucks) were completely full and that he was unable to receive more product at that time.

As per the usual operating procedure, staff at Leonoil Company Limited advised Mr. Zeghir about the importance of collecting his remaining product prior to the government change or he woiuld have to pay the difference of the government-imposed increase. Following the change, several attempts were made to refund the money for the uncollected 200,000 litres to Jaffer because he refused to pay the government-imposed increased price. All attempts were rejected.

It should be noted that all entities including the State House, foreign embassies, mining conglomerates, NGOs and the everyday consumer acknowledges and operates within these rules set forth by the Government of Sierra Leone.

The standard over last 40 years has been that whenever the price goes up on undelivered products, the difference is paid by the buyer, and when the price goes down on undelivered products the difference is reimbursed by the supplier to the buyer.

Even when the price has changed, Jaffer wanted to collect his remaining 200,000 litres without paying the requisite tax to the National Revenue Authority (NRA), a dubious move the Leonoil Company had strongly rejected, especially at a time when the government was in dire need of revenue to actualize its development trail.

These positions have been made clearly to the court and examples of the NRA enforcing collections where these rules are flouted were also being presented during the trial.

After a long-drawn litigation, a court ruling was given against Leonoil and exempting Jaffer and SKM from paying the taxes due to the government.
Due to what Leonoil described as an egregious ruling, an appealed against the decision has been filed to the Appeals Court and hearing is yet to commence.
Thus, news that Leonoil has lost the case in court is totally erroneous.

Leonoil has filed an appeal in good faith with the strong conviction that current ruling goes against the Government of Sierra Leone’s tax laws and it also sets an example that Jaffar can get away with tax evasion due to the several influences he continues to use in intimidating Staff and Management of Leonoil Company limited. Leonoil stands on the side of the law, on the side of fairness and on the side of integrity