VAT Officer Investigating Courts Barbados Was Reassigned?


Senator Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

The problem with enforcing the VAT laws has nothing to do with the junior public officers whose duty it is to collect the tax. Often, officers are proceeding against someone who has failed to pay the VAT and the officer is taken off the case after the VAT cheat made a phone call to a Minister of Government or a senior public officer.

I remember a few years ago, an officer discovered that Courts Barbados Ltd. was not paying in the VAT. An investigation was carried out and an assessment of $25 million was made against the company. The file was taken away from the officer and she was reassigned other work. The assessment was never pursued. All this was happening while the company was giving away cars and free living for a year, presumably out of the stolen VAT.

By the way, because of that case and others like it, the officer got disgusted and retired early and is now drawing a Government pension.

Caswell Franklyn

This comment was posted to Barbados Underground on 04 November 2012 by Senator Caswell Franklyn. He has repeated the statement many times since, HOWEVER, he has never been able to elicit a response from the Democratic Labour Party then or the Barbados Labour Party today.  If what the Senator alleges is true doesn’t the situation fit nicely into the agenda the Mia Mottley campaigned on?

To the minister of government concerned – here is the question posed in three parts.

  1. Does Courts Barbados owe the taxpayers of Barbados 25 million dollars (plus interest and penalties)?
  2. If YES why is this profitable company not being moved against by our government?
  3. If NO does it make since to issue a statement of clarification to ensure the reputation of the company is protected.

We are so up to here at the sloth exhibited by successive governments as it relates to doing the people’s business.

58 thoughts on “VAT Officer Investigating Courts Barbados Was Reassigned?

  1. Someone HIGHER UP was paid kickbacks by Courts Barbados/Unicomer to make this $25 million VAT stolen disappear.

  2. Remind me of the name of the owner of Courts, Braithwaite, Nurse, Clarke, Codrington, Ward,????
    You will find that wherever you go in the world certain cultures have endemic traits, especially corruption. They then spread their cancer.,

  3. @ 45 govt at 6 :24 AM

    “endemic traits ,especially corruption” . Simple solution!
    And to think that David BU give me sleepless nights working out equations pertaining to rocket science.

  4. @ 45 govt at 6 :24 AM

    “endemic traits ,especially corruption” . Simple solution!
    And to think that David BU gives me sleepless nights working out equations pertaining to rocket science.

  5. What gaudy looking colours when painted on large buildings like Courts and guard walls like Westbury Cemetery.Awful to behold.These colours should be used sparingly.This DLP crap has to stop.Its nothing but abuse.Soft on the eye colours are preferred.When used to such an extent it makes the National colours look like a shanty town in India or Brazil.

  6. So Courts collects the VAT from black people shopping there, some paying interest to the company for hire purchases, then keeps it for themselves? It seems everyone is robbing the poor black people in Barbados and getting away with it. Now they will be paying little or no corporation taxes under Mia Muttley’s government. This is the reverse of Robin Hood, they are robbing the poor and giving it to the rich. Then she has the audacity to ask us in the diaspora to help Barbados when she should be using her considerable powers (30-0) to help the poor local blacks.

  7. Yup! And some of that VAT was mine! I believe it is still mine and should be returned to me. It was taken under false pretext.

  8. But it going to cost them I don’t want ANYTHING they have for sale EVER again. They will make no further profit off me. And I was a very good customer.

  9. Whatever for????????? What is my offence???????????? I asked you to be specific. What cultures? The usual suspects? Who? Who? Who?

    In which cultures is corruption endemic?

  10. @45
    “Remind me of the name of the owner of Courts”…Groupo Unicomer, a large privately owned operation, with retail businesses throughout Mexico, Latin & South America and the Caribbean, HQ in El Salvador. The ‘shelter’ is one Regal Forest Holdings in the BVI.

  11. Corruption is all pervasive. It corrodes ALL cultures. The masses fight for justice. The corruption abates for a short while and then it gradually increases until the masses rise gain. It is a cycle that most cultures go through. Greed is a universal trait.

  12. Mia Mottley, Madam Rogue-Works, who reassigned the VAT officer from doing his job? Come clean, Mia. You promise a mountain but all we see are molehills. Transparency, Mia. Transparency.

  13. @SSS
    if my reading of the thread body is correct, Sen Franklyn’s comment was in November 2012, where he wrote, “I remember a few years ago”; suggesting the specific incident occurred a “few years prior to 2012”.

  14. Remember courts was in trouble world wide in 2004 and they were trying to save Caribbean interests, maybe sandals wasnt the first to get a sweet deal to have them keep going

  15. @ Lawson,

    I remember when Courts was in trouble. At the time I told one of the branch managers, who said his store was profitable, to prepare a business plan and make an offer to buy out his branch.
    But the real issue speaks to the incompetence of our administrative and political elites: VAT is collected at the point of sale or service. All government has to do is to collect that money every month, or six weeks, or whenever. If a company fails to pay over VAT that it should be put in administration, or simply made bankrupt. We also need a new Company Act to make directors PERSONALLY liable for the debt of the firm.
    We have governments – DLP and BLP – incapable of collecting cash that businesses collect on the state’s behalf. You cannot get any more incompetent (lazy?) than that.

  16. It was more like those who were supposed to COLLECT the 25 million dollars in VAT…took bribes instead…so ergo…no one can collect..

    they are all so repulsive.

  17. @Hal, I don’t really GET ur point … No govt in Bdos is INCAPABLE of collecting ANY tax and certainly not one as ‘upfront’ and direct as VAT…as Northern and the Blogmaster highlight the blunt issue here is simple corruption ..Period.

    Why conflate substantive changes to legislative corporate governance – which may or may not really be needed – with simple lack of action! …. for which, BTW there are already solid legal challenges that could be lodged!

    @Donna et al… The cynical side of all this : those lucky persons who won those exciting prizes got some of ur VAT too and surely they were overjoyed!

    I well recall that period leading into the 2000s when Courts had a very attractive, dazzling eyed lady as their top marketing person and she was all over the air waves touting the then ‘new emporer’s clothing’ of a customer’s Bill of Rights and all that awesome corporate speak…that and then the sweepstakes giveaways were truly something …

    Around and about that time as was noted they were in dire troubles in their home international markets and I was impressed at the time how effective their local (and somewhat regional in Jam and GT etc) they appeared to be.

    Ah well…it’s an old story that reinforces key points…1. If we really believe that in BIM there will be a SERIOUS effort to stop/prosecute corruption or malfesance at the top levels then we are more in need of Prozac or a deep psychiatric counselling than I imagined…

    …2. We believe certain political promises because we love intrigue, drama and a good fantasy…

    and 3. Life is good when u are assured a ‘mulligan’ whenever u WANT one so that your greivous false shot doesn’t count on your life’s scoresheet!

    I gone.

  18. I have personal knowledge of a case where the owner of a small village supermarket used to submitted his VAT returns on or before the due date, along with a schedule of the input and output tax transaction and a cheque if he had to pay VAT.

    An officer from the VAT Division, who co-incidentally “grew up” with the owner, requested a VAT audit/assessment of the company’s VAT input/output transactions for a specific period.

    The officer’s re-assessment saw the company owing the VAT Division over $200,000, in addition to interest and penalties. The method he used for the assessment was based on his opinion that there should be a limit to the amount of stock a small supermarket should purchase in any given month. So, in the months that bulk purchases of stock were made, he deducted the dollar value of the purchases to his preconceived limit, thereby reducing VAT on purchases (input tax).

    Obviously, if there is a reduction in the input tax and not a corresponding reduction of the VAT on sales (output tax), when the output VAT is deducted from input VAT, the company would have remit the difference.

    Every month the VAT office would send the company a statement indicating the arrears, interest and penalties.

    To appeal the assessment is a cumbersome and drawn out process, which usually discourage many small business owners from pursuing that option. Additionally, they still have to pay the VAT until the appeal is dealt with.

    This is the type of treatment some wicked, unconscientious VAT officers do to small business owners in Barbados.

    Additionally, the VAT officers make the process of receiving a VAT refund extremely difficult and would often find something trivial to deny the owners of a refund.

    If a company owes VAT they ensure the debt is collected, in some cases by garnishing income or payments due to the company by other companies………but take 1 or 2 years before paying a VAT refund.

    But VAT hierarchy and its officers, as well as the politicians, could allow these large companies to amass millions of dollars in VAT payable to the Treasury.

  19. “No govt in Bdos is INCAPABLE of collecting ANY tax and certainly not one as ‘upfront’ and direct as VAT…”

    de pedantic Dribbler

    I have to agree with you.

    For example, VAT returns for December and January are to be filed by February 21, or January and February are by March 21. Companies owing VAT are encouraged to pay on the same date, if not they will incur interest and penalties. Some companies may file returns, but not pay VAT due.

    There are systems in place, as indicated in the VAT Act, to enforce the remittance of the tax.

    In this case, I’ll admit it’s a failure of the system…..and incompetence or laziness of those individuals charged with enforcing the collection of VAT.

  20. It’s not logic, so therefore should not even be a question…but maybe someone can still answer..

    How as a collector of VAT…from businesses…you are TOO LAZY TO COLLECT…when the COLLECTION OF VAT…PAYS YOUR SALARY..

  21. Some of these evil government Officers, after retirement, can be seem walking in Bridgetown,and other places walking and looking over shoulders. some withdrew from public view

  22. “I’ll admit it’s a failure of the system…..and incompetence or laziness of those individuals charged with enforcing the collection of VAT.”

    Bravo. Yet what about where a business ‘pays someone collecting’ to ‘look the other way’ or simply accept filings without questions? This is neither incompetent nor lazy but corrupt.
    Didn’t the former managers of the GoB not do a similar thing with the NIS, by withholding payments to the NIS, so they could use the cash to fund other GoB operations. Business will do the same thing, IF they can get away with it. It is one thing to be fraudulent in filings/dealings and another to withhold monies for as long as one can? Especially if you think the dog has no teeth, and some future amnesty will allow one to avoid any penalties.

  23. The “flip side” danger in all of this, is when a government gets into dire financial straits, and cannot make timely tax refunds, but still expects its citizenry to file and pay on time. This is another way of funding government operations without formal borrowing. Sooner or later, the same citizenry take matters into their own hands to “even things out”. As @HA says “this will end in tears”, because even is never even.

  24. “That sounds frightening! Thanks for the information. It is good to know what you are up against.”


    And I’m bold enough to “tell you” that the VAT Division was one of the contributing factors to the demise of Lloyd Alleyne’s Shamrock Trading, when he was wholesaling in Barbarees’ Hill………before New Dimensions’ Ministries bought that compound.

    I do not rely on “hear say” as the basis of making my arguments or contributions …….. or what I perceive within my mind. to be true. In situations such as the one I described in my previous contribution…….. I “speak” from personal experience.

    On another note, I “see” you’re battling those individuals who exhibit “racists tendencies.” Unfortunately, some people of our race look for trivial characteristics as a means to associate themselves with these white “sarcastic racist”……… to divide and separate them from us……… and into categories which they can identify as being on par with their “white idols”…….because subconsciously, they still believe their white counterparts are superior and such would make them superior as well.

    When we “hear” them bragging about receiving island scholarships in an era when such awards were reserved for those who were predominately white, being “privileged” to attend HC or QC……….. or travel to school in a motor vehicle, living in a “wall house,” being “clear skinned” with curly hair,…….or living “overseas” makes them believe they are superior…….

    ……… we should have already established within our minds who we are “up against.”

    Donna, I remember a few years ago going into Inland Revenue to collect TD5 income tax slips for a client. I was at the counter waiting for assistance, while officers looked at me without asking what was the “nature of my business.” After approximately 10 minutes, a “half white man” came into the office and FIVE (5) officers ran from their desks to the counter to ask how they may assist him.

    He asked for TD5 slips, to which one female officer asked how many he required and gave him the amount he asked for.

    When they finally got to me, I was asked if it was my client’s first time for filing and all types of questions (which they refused to ask the “red man”), before giving me the TD5 slips.

    Another thing that irritates me is when a black person asks another a question, he/she replies in “pure, raw Bajan.” If a white man asks the same individual a question, he/she mimics an American accent to respond.

    But should always expect whites to be sarcastic……..but consider how blacks insult each other in this forum, especially those that reside “overseas.” They refer to us as silly, appallingly ignorant or say we learn by rote. They brag about they type of job they have and how much money they earn. One keyboard warrior tried to “contort” his argument when challenged and asked his challenger if he/she learned English as a foreign language.

    These are examples of how black people lack self-confidence and continue to view themselves as still being inferior to these white scoundrels.

    These same people who now reside in the “white man’s land,” and would have received their initial education off the backs of poor working class tax payers, who they now believe are backward and ignorant.

  25. Artax

    And the people of that genaration have right to think that way because they were made to believed that they were much more than the darker shade Bajan by the white establishment.

    Artax, I do not know how old you are, but I do remember quite vividly as a kid attending Roebuck Boys Primary School back in the late 60s to early 70s, and observing the high yellow Bajan working in the stores, banks and Cave Shepherd .

  26. Artax

    There were few black skinned people worked in the store front of Cave Shepherd back in the late 60s … one of my aunt worked there during that period and she thought she was white or more than the darker shade Bajan.

  27. lol…ya really can’t make any of this up, glad to see people feel comfortable enough in 2019 to actually be debating it and highlighting the various experiences, it is a start …just put it all out is that time…for all those decades old SOCIAL BLIGHTS AND CURSED PRACTICES….be EXPOSED to the LIGHT…

    That level of EVIL…THRIVES IN DARKNESS…and secrecy.

  28. lexicon what an asshole you are ….people do what they do to survive, its easy to to speak from the comfort of the future

  29. That did not even take forty-eight hours…but…..Mia is back to BLAMING DLP…she may want to tell us what she plans to do about Lashley, Fruendolittel and Sinckler……without all the LONG TALK…and .in 5 words…or LESS….

    Does she know if it is the MEXICAN CARTEL WHO WILL BE COLLECTING…

    “One of the five commercial Banks in Barbados has sold its portfolio of overdue mortgages to a Mexican company that will be pursuing Barbadians for the money with an added charge.

    Addressing a Barbados Labour Party meeting in St Philip North on Saturday night, the party leader , Mia Mottley said that the bank sold the rights to that collection of mortgages with late payments for less than 30 cents on the dollar.

    “So, if the mortgage portfolio value was $300 million, they sold it for under a $100 million,” she said without giving an indication of when the transaction took place.

    But she said that the Barbadians who have been behind with payments on these housing loans now have to deal with this Mexican company that wants to recover the money and, in the process, try to make an extra 20 to 30 cents on the dollar from what they’ve paid.

    “So, they want to recover at least $200 million for that portfolio,” she said.

    Mottley said that this should be of special concern to residents of St Philip North, “because I know that a lot of the houses that are being foreclosed upon are in new developments in St Philip”.

    She blamed incumbent constituency member or parliament, Michael Lashley, along with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Finance Minister Chris Sinckler who live in the district, for not taking action to protect the large number of Barbadians defaulting on their mortgages since 2008.”

  30. In the last 2 days people started talking about it again…Northern…I saw the part where it was a political meeting..

    …….but when you see those posts popping up on FB…many hands are making light work to DECEIVE…

    from that happened back then…, Bajans should just start taking all their money out of that bank…there are only 5 of them on the island, easy to find out which one…although, I understand people are finding ways to remove all their money from the 2 extra regional banks, their service is deplorable, people cannot access their online accounts, their IT is crap, cannot even change phone numbers on online accounts ….

    it is time to shut down those banks like CIBC that is giving deplorable service while acting like the people’s money belongs to them…Scotia is even worse.

  31. On the one hand you are on here daily slamming MAM, and now you are expecting readers to believe a story she apparently told on the campaign trail; that a $300M mortgage portfolio was sold to a loan shark back prior to May 2018, and appreciate, even if $500,000 is your average underperforming mortgage, $300M represents 600 mortgages, and in little Barbados not one peep have I heard about Mexicans calling for money? Not a public auction other than BRA for unpaid land taxes. Have the mortgage holders suddenly found the funds to pay the sharks, that they couldn’t pay the banks?

  32. I slam Mia when she deserves it, doing otherwise is being just like them…but apparently it is true…don’t know the specifics and details about who collects the debt or how…but one things for sure, the service in the 3 banks that are Canadian in origin are atrocious…they could not perform like that and still keep the same employees…IN they are infested with thieves..

    ….so those banks really do need to go if they cannot find bajans who understand what customer service means or if the banks are unwilling to pay SKILLED IT PEOPLE….too many people are complaining about their bad service..

    as we keep saying Jong or whoever is advising Mia are not the brightest people because they should never had reposted that BLAME THE BLP ..trick…to FB..which will obviously backfire…lol

  33. they should never had reposted that BLAME THE DLP ..trick…to FB..which will obviously backfire…

    the people really need to get id of the last BLP DINOSAUR party…nothing they do will seem right…that is what corruption does….their acronyms are both blighted.

  34. NorthernObserver

    Many of us are too quick to believe anything that’s posted on Facebook and other social media forum, especially when it fits in with our specific agenda.

    Then we run with it as though we have an “exclusive news scoop” and regurgitate it on BU as “breaking news.”

    Any “Tom, Dick or Harry” could post videos to Facebook in which they comment about every and anything and many of us run with it and believe what they said was true because we are pushing a similar agenda…….and are eager to re-post it to BU…….without confirming the authenticity of the comments.

  35. @WW&C
    thank goodness you still have a choice? You can deal with Republic or First Citizens or any of a number of credit unions.

  36. Exactly…but those like me mostly use the local accounts for transfers….too many THIEVES IN THE BANKS…

    they found a new way to steal peoples money and close off the accounts, if you are not monitoring and have proof of transaction…, then no trace whatever can be found.

  37. Artax,

    I was quite familiar with Lloyd and his business woes. I didn’t know what was causing his difficulties. I always found him to be a good man in whatever field we interacted. He worked hard to build that business and wanted to pass it on to his offspring.

  38. Very interesting. Should we not have arrested these leakages from the revenue stream before imposing other measures which will follow the same paths?

    • @Vincent

      If we follow this matter carefully these large companies have the resources to exhaust the appeal process and this as always leads to stalemate.

  39. @ David at 1 :19 PM

    Predicting a legal stalemate is a cop out. The law should be enforced without fear or favour. What is the point of drafting new laws when you could not enforce the old? To me that is an exercise in futility. We are just engaging in optics ;and we,the public, are not impressed.

    • @Vincent

      You state the obvious.

      We are where we are because we do not enforce the law. Those with money are the same that finance political campaigns.

  40. @ David BU at 1 :38 PM

    There is no evidence that the financiers of political campaigns are the persons avoiding paying their share of tax revenues.
    It is the obvious that needs correcting. Not some imagined conspiracy. We are not here for entertainment.

  41. A minister is reported to have said ” “I’m doing tours . . . to retail sectors. I’ve done the supermarkets and I am now doing the gas stations, getting familiar with the operations and seeing how you, as a key stakeholder, are helping to build out this economy.
    Gone are the days when we as ministers sit and behave as paragons of piety and ask people to come to us and try to dictate policy.”

    I will keep my opinion to my self but my best friend cannot believe that a government minister could be so ……….

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