A related civil case is still ongoing but Justice Sonia Young found no good argument to continue the order at the behest of Instadollar, the Panamanian company suing local agents of the Moneygram exchange service which the Coyes formed part of.
But the Coyes have other problems, including a massive $3.212 million, nearly half the estate, handed over to the Income Tax Department with the agreement of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) while the latter was conducting its investigation, which resulted in acquittal following a retrial on money laundering charges.
They say the money was unlawfully taken. But Commissioner of Income Tax Kent Claire said they are yet to receive notice of any challenge to the Department’s determination.
“That part of it I can say no; we haven’t gotten anything, but let me say that in the past, the media has asked me a lot about that case. We have no difficulty in addressing any of those matters’ legitimacy and so on. It is just that, because it is a litigation, it is prudent to not comment until at some point, it is done. Beyond that, the Income and Business Tax Act prevents us from disclosing persons. But as a matter of fact, nothing has come to us yet”.
Limiting his comments due to ongoing litigation and restrictions under law, Claire did defend the Department’s method of collection and rationale for doing so.
Kent Claire: “No, absolutely, why would it be not right? If we make an assessment and the assessment is due at a particular date, the monies must be paid when the taxes are due. That is why tax administrations all over will have the opportunity to get from you or get from a third party who has money for you to satisfy your tax. Taxes are due when the statutory provisions say it’s due. So it is not a question of assessing and then, hoping that you will pay down-the-road. It is claiming what is due to the people and the government of Belize at a point in time”.
The Department went ahead despite the Coyes’ various problems because there was nothing legally stopping them from proceeding.