BARBADOS – Father of Opposition Leader denies benefiting from tax waiver

(CNS) – Prominent Barbadian Queen’s Counsel Elliot Mottley Wednesday denied that he had approached the Barbados government of then prime minister Owen Arthur seeking a waiver from the Inland Revenue Department more than two decades ago.

“It is clear that the Minister of Finance as he was empowered to do under the Income Tax Act waived the interest but not the tax or penalties. I wish to reiterate that at no stage did I make any request to the Minister of Finance to waive any tax on my behalf and at no stage did I receive any tax waiver,” a visibly upset and emotional Mottley told reporters.

“Let me make it very clear that there was no need for the cabinet to be involved in my application because it was made under the Income Tax Act and not under the Duties, Taxes and Other Payment Exemption Act Cap 67 (b) of the laws of Barbados,” he added.

The issue of the waiver first emerged on the political platform here when Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who is leading the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) into the May 24 general election, told a public a meeting on Sunday that the present leader of the main opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP), Mia Mottley, should inform the public whether or not her father was among those who benefitted from waivers totalling millions of dollars.

“Elliott Deighton Mottley had two judgments lodged against him for monies due and owing to the Income Tax Department upwards of one million dollars (One Barbados dollar=US$0.50 cents). In 1998, I walked in the Registry one morning and everyone had frowns on their faces. They were saying that here it is that we have to pay our taxes but yet over BDS$400,000 of that tax obligation was being written off by the Owen Arthur administration,” said Stuart.

But Stuart sought to distance then prime minister Owen Arthur from the transaction, telling supporters that while the former prime minister had denied the request for the write-off, it was granted as soon as he left the country.

Arthur, speaking at a news conference on Monday, denied approving any tax waivers for Mottley, and added that his daughter Mia should clear the air on the matter

Mottley told reporters that after having his personal finances audited for the period 1987 to 1993, it was found that he owed the Inland Revenue Department substantial arrears of income tax, and that in January 1995, the department registered two judgments against him in the sums of BDS$1 031 284.37 and $20 587.91 respectively.

“I categorically state that at no time did I ever apply to Mr Arthur for a waiver of arrears of income tax which I owed the Inland Revenue Department,” Mottley said.

“It was entirely untruthful and misleading for Mr. Arthur to make assertions that I applied for a waiver of tax which would have invoked the process under the Duties, Taxes and Other Payment Exemption Act.

“I am particularly disappointed that for Mr. Arthur for whom I acted as an attorney at law and continue to act as an attorney ….and on whose behalf I obtained damages for defamation now resort to making the kind of statements he made,” Mottley said, adding that he was more than enraged at the suggestion by the former prime minister.

Elliott told reporters, that the official records would show that his daughter, who is now seeking to become the first woman to head a government here, acted as Minister of Finance during a particular time-frame when it was claimed she had taken up the position because Arthur was overseas on official business.

“For the avoidance of doubt, I wish the public to know that at no time during the period 1994 to 1999, did my daughter, Mia Amor Mottley, ever act as Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs of Barbados.”

Mottley, who was flanked by attorney, Roger Forde, QC, did not field questions from the media indicating that defamation litigation surrounding the issue was pending.

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