A Vincentian lawyer who is facing tax evasion charges was on Friday allowed to address the court from the bar, rather than the accused person’s dock, as is generally the case.
The lawyer, Samuel E. Commissiong, sat at the bar while waiting for his matter to be called at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court.
When the matter was called, Commissiong addressed Magistrate Bertie Pompey from the bar and was never asked to stand in the accused person’s dock.
Some persons familiar with the operations of the court have spoken of their surprise about Magistrate Bertie Pompey’s treatment of the accused lawyer, and have noted that accused persons are supposed to be standing.
They say the magistrate’s treatment of the accused lawyer could trigger allegations of partiality.
One court officer has told iWitness News that while such a situation should not be, the magistrate is allowing it.
Commissiong also sat at the Bar bench when waiting for the charges to be read to him during his initial court appearance in June.
He seemed reluctant to enter the dock when the matter was called and only did so when ordered to by prosecutor Station Sergeant of Police, Elgin Richards.
Commissiong is charged that between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2013 at Buccament Bay, being an employer of Buccament Bay Resort within the prescribed time he failed to pay the Comptroller of Inland Revenue the amount of EC$404,740.09 deducted from remuneration paid to employees.
He is also charged that between Feb. 1 and Dec. 31, 2011 at Buccament, he wilfully evaded the assessment payment or collection of value-added tax in the amount of EC$808,405.
A third charge is that between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2012 at Buccament, he, being an employee of Buccament Bay Resort, within the prescribed time failed to pay the Comptroller of Inland Revenue the amount of EC$886,818.05 deducted from remuneration paid to employees.
Commissiong is further charged that between Feb. 1 and Dec. 31, 2012 at Buccament, he wilfully evaded the assessment payment or collection of value-added tax in the amount of EC$2,754,132.
Commissiong is jointly charged with managing director of Harlequin Property SVG, owner of Buccament Bay Resort, Dave Ames, on all four charges.