Written by: Jacob N.B. Parley
Communications Director at Ministry of Commerce
Friday: October 18, 2019: The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has fined the Management of E-Roberts Distilleries Incorporated, $LRD147, 000.00 (one Hundred Forty Seven Thousand Liberian Dollars) for two offenses.
E- Roberts, a local producer of alcoholic beverages, was fined $LRD 42,000.00 for deception and an additional $LRD 105,000.00 for using a facility that did not meet distillery minimum standards.
A Commerce Ministry release says the full $147,000.00 was paid into government revenue at the Central Bank of Liberia, on Monday, October 14, 2019, with copies of the deposit slips formally tuned over to the Ministry as evidence of compliance after the fine was imposed.
E-Roberts Distilleries Incorporated was quarantined by the Commerce Ministry in August, 2019, after it was discovered that the entity was using a facility along the Samuel Kanyan Doe Boulevard for production, especially without the facility satisfying distillery minimum requirements.
During the inspection, executed by the Commerce Ministry’s Inspectorate, in collaboration with the Liberia National Police, over 900 (nine hundred) cartons of illegally processed alcoholic beverages were discovered, seized and subsequently transferred to the National Standards Laboratory for testing.
The over 900 cartoons contained variety of the alcoholic beverages said to be harmful, including E- Roberts Dry Gin, Legacy Bitters and Mandingo Bitters.
The Commerce Ministry release said, a test conducted on the seized items has proven that they are not contaminated.
As a result of the outcome of the test, E- Roberts will now go ahead to transform the initially quarantined facility into a distillery, taking into account the meeting of distillery minimum requirements before it can proceed with normal processing.
The Commerce Ministry will do an inspection of the facility before the production will commence.
According to the release, the Commerce Ministry maintains that E-Roberts is a legally registered Liberian business, as initially mentioned, but the business had to be fined for deception by operating in an isolated area other than what is on its registration records, in addition to the facility not meeting distillery minimum requirements.
At the same the Commerce Ministry has accepted an appeal from the legal team of Fuzion Bar and Restaurant to reduce the $US3,000.00 ( Three Thousand United States Dollars) fine imposed on it to $US500.00 ( Five Hundred Hunted States Dollars). Fuzion was fined on September 4, 2019, after it refused entry to the Commerce Ministry’s Inspectorate during an ongoing inspection of business houses in Monrovia.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has re-iterated its commitment to ensuring a conducive business environment for Liberia and warned against unfair practices in the sector.