By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN
A FOREIGNER currently conducting business in Honiara has been banned from leaving the country for the next three years.
Inland Revenue Division (IRD) slapped the ban on the Sri Lankan national and former banker Kutila Pinto over unpaid taxes he reportedly owed to the Government.
Pinto had worked in the country for many years, first as a manager of Westpac Bank and later as founding executive director of Pan Oceanic Bank (POB).
He was removed from POB in 2017 after the bank decided to abolish the executive director position.
He has since been running a private business called ‘Best & Less Limited’ in Honiara and has often traveled in and out of the country.
Last week, the Deputy Commissioner of Inland Revenue Eric Saelea issued the order that banned Pinto from leaving the country, unless he cleared his outstanding dues.
According to Saelea, the Departure Prohibition Order was issued in accordance with the provisions of Section 87(5) of the Income Tax Act (cap. 123).
The ban has already been relayed to the Director of Immigration Mason Fugui.
The Solomon Star was told Pinto was earlier scheduled to fly out Tuesday this week but the trip did not take place due to the ban.
“This order has effect throughout Solomon Islands, including aboard ships and vessels within the country’s territorial waters and aircraft within Solomon Islands’ airspace,” Saelea stated in a letter he sent to Fugui, which the Solomon Star has cited.
“This order may be revoked only if the Commissioner of Inland Revenue issued a tax clearance to Pinto,” Saelea said in the letter.
“This order is effective for three years from the date of issue (4 June 2019) unless extended or revoked.”
The Solomon Star was unable to establish the amount of tax Pinto owed the Government.
However, sources familiar with the matter said the amount was “huge and significant.”
Pinto could not be located in Honiara yesterday for comments.
Having lived and worked here for years, the Sri Lankan Government decided to appoint Pinto to be its consul general in Solomon Islands in late 2016.
That appointment afforded Pinto diplomatic privileges normally enjoyed
by serving diplomats.
It’s not clear whether he still holds that position.
In 2017, Honiara law firm Rano & Company wrote a letter to the Police Commissioner requesting the police to file criminal charges against Pinto.
This was over allegations Pinto falsified his credentials and
qualifications and that the qualifications he possessed were fakes.
It’s not clear whether police have investigated the complaint.