Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram on Friday said the figure that he has been sued for by the city council mostly represents interest charges which should not have been applied based on an agreement which had been reached with the Town Clerk in 2001.
Further, Ram said that up to the time of writing he had not received a summons in this matter though it was extensively publicized.
Ram has three matters against him for a total of around $11.4m and the matter is set for court on October 24.
In his statement on Friday in response to a news item on the matter in that day’s edition of Stabroek News,
Ram said “As of June 2013,all principal Rates & Taxes assessed have been settled to 31 December 2013 taking into account the amounts owed by council and there is no amount outstanding”.
Of the three matters filed against him, the first is in respect to a portion of his property at Lot 158 Waterloo Street, North Cummingsburg, for which $7,007,826 was said to be outstanding and Sub lots Lettered “C” and “D,” of Lot 157 Waterloo Street, for which $2,942,860 and $1,483,700, respectively, were said to be outstanding. All the monies represent the rates and interest owed from 1998 to 2013, according to the city’s claim.
However, while acknowledging that the matter goes back to the 1990s, Ram stated on Friday that the issue was settled. He said that the monies claimed include “significant” interest charges which he says would have never arisen had appropriate action been taken by the Town Clerk’s office in 2001.
“At your suggestion we agreed to have our rates and taxes account with you and our bills…settled by exchange of cheques. Our records indicate that the amount owed (by council) …exceeds the amount…owed to the City Council for rates and taxes,” a letter on 23rd May 2001 by Ram to then Town Clerk Beulah Williams stated.
‘Notwithstanding this, we paid you a cheque for $1,308,750 representing rates & taxes for the years 1997-2001. This payment was made on the basis of our understanding and commitment made several years ago that our balances would be set off against each other,” Ram’s letter to Williams stated.
Ram said that as a consequence of the breach of the agreement with Williams, the City Council continued to charge interest on “non-existent balances” and applied payments of rates and taxes, first to interest and any balance to principal taxes.
In a letter to now acting Town Clerk Carol Sooba, dated October 5th 2012,with an attached record of payments, Ram referred to a conversation the two had on the issue.“At the time we spoke our balance was $197,841 and this has since been settled. Please see attached a current statement which shows a zero balance outstanding,” the 2012 letter stated.
Nonetheless Ram says he welcomes the actions taken by the Town Clerk as he believes that it will bring a resolution to the problem but opined that it was regrettable that an administrative matter ended up in court.