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Sierra Leone News: OCTEA is not a Registered Company in Sierra Leone -Justice Alhadi Rules

Justice Bintu Alhadi of The Fast Track Commercial Court ruled yesterday in Freetown that Octea Group Limited is not a registered company in Sierra Leone and does not own a mining license to operate in the country, and therefore not liable to pay property tax to Koidu City.
She gave this ruling in the case between Koidu New Sembehun City Council (KNSCC) and Octea Group Limited as first defendant. The company is registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and offshore haven and operating three subsidiary companies registered in the country.
The three subsidiaries, according to Justice Alhadi, are Koidu Limited, Tonguma Limited and Boroma Limited. OCTEA has not established a place of business in the country and the 84 Wilkinson Road office in Freetown is the office address of Koidu Limited and not OCTEA, she said. To emphasize that OCTEA has no presence in the country, the judge noted that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not issue license to OCTEA but to Koidu Limited.
“OCTEA is a separate legal entity from Koidu Limited,” she said.
Justice Alhadi said that the plaintiff failed to provide any evidence indicating that OCTEA owns a mining license. She asked that OCTEA should consider registering as a company in Sierra Leone.
The agreement has not obligated Koidu Limited to pay property tax to the Koidu City Council. The agreement is valid until the 22nd July 2030, she said. OCTEA is not the owner or occupier of any building in koidu. The companies are exempted from paying all forms of taxes to Koidu City.
The mining lease agreement called Koidu Kimberlite Agreement was signed in 2005. It was subsequently amended and ratified by parliament in October 2010. This agreement gives Koidu Limited a lot of tax exemptions including payment of property tax to koidu City.
The Local Government Act of 2004 stated that companies should pay property tax in the area of operation. But parliament overlooked this and wholly ratified Koidu’s agreement.
Saa Emerson Lamina, Mayor of Koidu City who sued OCTEA said after the ruling that anything is possible in Sierra Leone, and Lawyer Saffa Abdulai who represented Koidu City nodded in agreement.
This is the second case in the High Court of Sierra Leone establishing that OCTEA is not a registered company in the country and therefore cannot be sued.
Friday April 08, 2016

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