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Dave Ames, lawyer Samuel Commissiong slapped with 12 charges

Dave Ames, lawyer Samuel Commissiong slapped with 12 charges

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A prominent businessman and a senior member of the legal fraternity were recently slapped with a total of 12 charges relating to theft and tax evasion of almost EC$7 million.

Dave Ames, founder of Harlequin Hotels and Resorts (parent company of Buccament Bay Resort Ltd and Harlequin Property SVG Ltd.), has been charged with theft under the Criminal Code, tax evasion pursuant to Section 81 of the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act, and failure to pay the Comptroller of Inland Revenue pursuant to Section 134 of the Income Tax Act.

Samuel Commissiong — who is the solicitor and secretary for Buccament Bay Resort Ltd and Harlequin Property SVG — has also been charged with tax evasion, pursuant to Section 81 of the VAT Act, and failure to pay the Comptroller of Inland Revenue pursuant to Section 134 of the Income Tax Act.{{more}}

According to a source close to the investigation, the eight charges against Ames are as follows: between February 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011, stole the sum of $397,615 – the property of the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines; between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012, stole the sum of $886,818.05 – the property of the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines; between February 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011, stole the sum of $1,739,524 – the property of the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines; between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012, stole the sum of $404,740.09 – the property of the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines; between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012, failed to pay the Comptroller the amount of $886,818.05 deducted from remuneration paid to employees; between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013, failed to pay the Comptroller the amount of $404,740.09 deducted from remuneration paid to employees; between February 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011, willfully evaded the assessment payment or collection of VAT in the amount of $808,405; and between February 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012, willfully evaded the assessment payment or collection of VAT in the amount of $2,754,132.

The four charges against Commissiong are as follows: between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012, failed to pay the Comptroller the amount of $886,818.05 deducted from remuneration paid to employees; between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013, failed to pay the Comptroller the amount of $404,740.09 deducted from remuneration paid to employees; between February 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011, willfully evaded the assessment payment or collection of VAT in the amount of $808,405; and between February 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012, willfully evaded the assessment payment or collection of VAT in the amount of $2,754,132.

The duo were originally scheduled to appear at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court last Wednesday, June 22, but the matters were adjourned to Thursday, because both men had matters at the High Court.

However, yesterday, the cases were further adjourned to Monday, June 27, as Commissiong requested more time to deal with his High Court matter, and authorities are unsure of the whereabouts of Ames at present.

It is suspected that Ames, who was present at the High Court up to Tuesday, may have left the state.

Ames, a British entrepreneur, is a naturalized Vincentian, having been granted Vincentian citizenship by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

Section 81 of the VAT Act (CAP 445) states: “A person who willfully evades, or attempts to evade the assessment, payment, or collection of VAT, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty-five thousand dollars, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or both fine and imprisonment.”

Section 134 of the Income Tax Act (CAP 445) states: “Offences by employer or employees: Any person who – a) being an employer… (iii) within the prescribed time fails to pay to the Comptroller any amount of tax deducted from remuneration paid to an employee… is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of fifteen hundred dollars and to imprisonment for one year.”

A well-placed source also divulged that there are more charges, of a similar nature, pending against both Ames and Commissiong. (JSV)

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