Liberia’s tax court has ordered that domestic mobile operator Atlantic Wireless (Libercell) be sold, confirming recent press speculation over the fate of the venture. A notice of sale dated 22 January 2013 was issued by Acting Tax Court Sheriff Captain Charles D Kidio, who revealed that the mobile operator ‘will be sold to the highest bidder at its various locations’. Concurrently, Tax Court Judge Eva Mappay-Morgan ordered that the carrier’s assets ‘be seized until the amount is raised’ and issued a warrant for the arrest of Libercell’s CEO, financial manager and any other authorised personnel and to ‘bring them before the Tax Court or any other judge, if the court officers cannot find land, goods and chattels of Libercell’.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, earlier this month fate of Libercell hung in the balance, as state prosecutors considered the sale of the unit due to its USD734,963 debts to the government. Discussions on the outcome were due to take place at that date, with the Finance Ministry reportedly keen to sell Libercell for USD1 million because of its payments defaults. A spokesman for the state, Powell Duan, said the courts had given the cellco 15 days to settle the debt, but it had failed to do so, leaving the sale of the operator as the only option.
In December last year, the Supreme Court in Liberia gave the judge control over the handling of Libercell’s tax arrear trial, following a three-month delay enforced by a High Court stay order. The tax court’s order called for Libercell’s shut down due to its failure to pay USD1.47 million in back taxes to the government. On 5 December Judge Morgan issued an order for the cellco to pay USD734,963 by 22 December 2012.