Keeping fake accountants at bay

Keeping fake accountants at bay

MASERU – THE Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) and the Lesotho Institute of Accountants (LIA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance professionalism and keep fake accountants at bay.
This is in reaction to the recent nabbing of some policemen who pretended to be auditors from the LRA and defrauded several businesses in Maseru.

Last month, three police officers and two civilians were arrested after they allegedly masqueraded as LRA agents to defraud businesses.
The four men and a woman were arrested on March 6.
The prosecution alleges that police officers Mokheseng Khoabane, Keketso Pelesa and Pheello Motsingoane, working with civilians Khotso Nqhae and Tebello Lehloenya defrauded businesses in Ha-Thetsane pretending to be LRA officials.
“(They) presented themselves as taxation officers to taxpayers by demanding therefrom, tax clearance certificates and trader’s licences and threatening to take recovery measures by closing down the businesses of the taxpayers for failure to comply with such demand,” the charge sheet reads.

“Acting on the false misrepresentation and the threats of closure of their businesses, the individual taxpayers would then pay amounts of money to the accused persons to avoid closure of their businesses as demanded by the accused persons,” reads the charge sheet.
They allegedly further demanded an amount of M7 000, M400, M700 and M300 from the respective victims.
The three police officers were stationed at Mabote police station in the Special Operations Unit (SOU).
The two ordinary citizens are not formally employed.
It is expected that after the signing of the MoU, Basotho will no longer be scammed by fake accountants.
The LRA said these fake accountants usually prepare books or file returns for the unsuspecting customers.
After the signing of the MoU, businesses will now have access to a list of professional accredited accountants entrusted to perform such duties.

“For a long time Basotho have fallen victims to fake accountants preparing their financial books or filing their returns for them,” the LRA Commissioner General Thabo Khasipe said.
Khasipe said the MoU will help minimise clients’ frustrations of having to queue for long hours to fill their tax returns as now they will have agents they can task to do the job or them.
Khasipe clarified that no one is forced to use an agent, although it is more convenient.
“You will not have to queue, meaning that time can be used for other activities,” Khasipe said.
“Also the authority does not have to deal with 50 people directly but rather deal with one person representing 50 people,” he said.
He said this will also make it easier to maintain relationships between the authority and clients.

Monyaola Mosoloane, the CEO for LIA, indicated that it is standard practice in many other countries to have the accounting body participate in tax issues.
He said having qualified accountants handle clients’ filing business will reduce the rate of scamming by non-professional accountants.
“This new system is for the benefit of the clients more than for the accountants,” Mosoloane said.
“Through this MoU we are going to help the LRA reduce the cost of collection and turnaround time,” he said.

This is one of the many plans to be implemented by the LRA to give clients an excellent service, according to Khasipe.
By the end of the month the authority will introduce a queue management service that will enable clients to know where they are in the queue and give them an estimated waiting time.
Plans are also underway to move to electronic filing next year.

Lemohang Rakotsoane

 

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