Leonoil Fights Back Against Misinformation & False Claims by Businessman Jaffer Zeghir

Amidst Alleged Tax Evasion Case…

In response to a series of contentious reports, Leonoil Company Limited, one of the leading petroleum marketing firms in Sierra Leone, has come forward to clarify details regarding a disputed transaction with SKM Enterprise, owned by CEO Jaffer Zeghir, which occurred three years prior.

The controversy stems from allegations of tax evasion associated with a fuel purchase in which Zeghir only uplifted 230,000 of the 430,000 litres paid for, leaving 200,000 litres amid pending price changes by the Sierra Leonean government. Leonoil has faced a barrage of negative press reports, which CEO Ibrahim Cole asserts is rife with inaccuracies and misleading statements about the case.

Leonoil detailed its efforts to notify Zeghir of the impending price hike, urging him to collect the remaining fuel. Despite their warnings and standard practice to settle price differences post-government adjustments, Zeghir refused to either uplift the fuel or pay the increased amount, leading to Leonoil’s attempts to refund the payment for the uncollected fuel – attempts that Zeghir rebuffed.

The company emphasized that its operating standards, which require buyers to pay the difference when government-imposed prices rise, are commonly accepted and practiced by various entities, including the State House and foreign embassies. This standard has been upheld consistently for over four decades.

After a controversial court judgment favored Zeghir, exempting him and SKM Enterprise from paying the government taxes on the un-lifted fuel, Leonoil lodged an appeal. This legal move challenges the initial ruling, which the company believes contravenes Sierra Leonean tax laws and sets a dangerous precedent for potential tax evasion.

Leonoil’s statement also points to Zeghir’s history of disparaging remarks directed at government officials, including the Vice President and the Judiciary, often aired on social media and in local newspapers, raising questions about his motivations and those backing him over the years. His persistent behaviour at attacking government authorities and institutions and dodging from paying tax, raises the question about whether Zeghir has an ulterior motive and could be undermining the efforts of the Sierra Leone Government if not brought to book.

The Appeal Court is yet to commence hearing on the matter, and Leonoil contests the circulating news that it has already lost the case, affirming its commitment to the rule of law and integrity. The company remains steadfast in its belief that the appeal will correct what they consider to be an unjust ruling.

And until this happens, the matter for the time being remains unresolved. Only when the Appeal Court sits on the matter for a proper ruling and settlement, social media and other news outlets must refrain from commenting on the matter because according to law, matters that are before any court of law are not to be commented on just so that the matter is not prejudiced before it is concluded. Anyone caught doing this unlawful act, risks being tried and even jailed if found guilty for Contempt of court.


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