Taking to the box on May 19, 2015 the four tried to prove how the accused fraudulently retained tax returns worth over FCFA 406 million. After the Yaounde-based Special Criminal Court, SCC, on April 22, 2015, dropped charges against Tiako Etienne, one of the five accused in the embezzlement trial of former officials of the National Oil Refinery, SONARA, hearing in the trial resumed on Tuesday, May 19, 2015. Last month’s decision followed the reimbursement by Tiako of FCFA 108 million in January 2015, the amount he and others were accused of embezzling.
The trial team on May 19, 2015, was led by Mr Justice Yap Abdou, President of the SCC, Mr. Justice Nyassa Luc and Mr. Justice Nina Galina. Taking first to the witness box was Modeste Mopa Fatoing, the Director of Taxes. He testified how Charles Metouck, former SONARA General Manager, and co-accused, failed to remit FCFA 406,456,160 to the Public Treasury, being tax returns. The amount was reportedly fraudulently retained from the signing by SONARA of a service contract with EDC, a Lome-Togo-based firm.
Cross-examined by Advocate General Taghim Jean Claude and counsel for the State, Modeste Mopa explained the link between the Tax Department and the Public Treasury, demonstrating that the withheld funds were State money. He took the opportunity to emphasise the role of the tax payer and the State’s oversight functions to ensure the proper collection and management of its funds.
Next was Maximilien Nnomo, a Tax Inspector, who talked on taxes, their collection and the statutes governing State financial transactions in general. Véronique Makamtseu, the Head of SONARA’s Financial Department, explained the terms of reference of the agreement between SONARA and Togo-based EDC, demonstrating how the tax returns from the deal were not paid into Public Treasury by the accused. The fourth and last witness for the prosecution for the day, Jean Bernard Kamgha, a Tax Inspector, responded to questions, analysing financial transactions by Charles Metouck and the co-accused, pointing out where they failed to pay in money meant for the State.
The matter was later adjourned to June 11, 2015, to continue hearing testimonies of more prosecution witnesses. The trial of the former General Manager of the National Oil Refinery, Charles Metouck, opened on Wednesday, February 18, 2015. Metouck and others are accused of embezzling over FCFA 406 million. The other accused are Ngalle Mouelle Noé, Edinguele Edinguele Jean Joule and Dikoume Albert Léonard.