Former Chief Of Staff (COS) in the President’s office Dr. Richard Conteh, Timber Tycoon Alie Suma and Leslie Peter Crosby have been committed to stand trial in the High Court on allegations of conspiring to defraud the state, the sum of four billion forty-five million eighty-two thousand and twenty Leones (Le 4,45.882.020) in 2014.
The long awaited controversial Preliminary Investigations of Dr. Richard Conteh, Alie Suma and Leslie Peter Crosby started in 2014 when the three were arrested and dragged to court on charges of conspiracy, forgery and altering false document, and wilful evasion of export duty.
Managing Director of Timber Harvesters, Processers and Exporters Sierra Leone Limited, Alie Suma was charged with seventeen (17) counts, while the former COS Dr. Richard Conteh was charged with two (2) counts and Peter Crosby was charged with one (1) count.
It was alleged that on diverse dates between February and May 2014 in Freetown, Conteh, Suma and Crosby, with intent to defraud the states, conspired together to evade payment of export duty of four billion forty-five million eighty-two thousand and twenty Leones (Le 4, 45.882.020) being export duty for 614 twenty feet containers of value added timber by falsely pretending that the timber tycoon had the authority to export the said quantity of timber and that he had officially paid his export duty of the said containers.
On the charges of forgery, it was stated that between 1st and 28th February 2014, the former COS and Alie Suma forged certain documents to wit a letter titled ‘the export of value added processed timber’ purported to show that an open-ended clearance was granted to Suma to export the said timbers and also Suma was charged with altering false documents, purporting to be a letter from the office of the Chief of Staff giving clearance to export unlimited number of containers knowing it to be false.
The Timber Magnate Suma was also charged with Wilful Evasion of export duty noting that between February and May in 2014, the accused evaded export tax duty for 614 containers of value added processed timbers which landed him in Court and Pademba road Male Correctional Centre.
After two years of thorough Preliminary Investigations, Presiding Magistrate Aboubhakarr Binneh Kamara of the Siaka Steven Street Court in Freetown stated that he is committing the matter to High Court because after looking at the evidences and witnesses before him “the accused have questions to answer to in the High Court for trial pursuant to offences as charged.”
Richard Conteh, Alie Suma and Leslie Peter Crosby await their trial on a one billion Leones (Le 1b) bail granted in July 2014.