GRA dissociates itself from Commissioner’s verbal attack on Special Prosecutor

Col Kwadwo Damoah (Rtd)

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has dissociated itself from its Commisioner’s verbal attacks on the Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng.

In a press statement signed by the Commissioner-General of the GRA, Ammishadai Owusu-Amoah, it said the Authority would like to state for the record that it accords the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) the respect and the dignity that the OSP carries.

“In this regard the Authority wishes to state that the comments made by the Commissioner of the Customs Division, Col Kwadwo Damoah Rtd. at the Customs Management Retreat on Wednesday August 10, 2022 on the outcomes of the investigation were made in his personal capacity and do not convey the opinion of the Board and Management of GRA,” the statement said.

At a staff retreat in Kumasi last week, Col Damoah challenged a report by the Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng, that found that a member of the Council of State had used her position to get a favourable decision from the Customs Division of GRA, which led to a reduction in the tax liabilities of Labianca Limited.

In criticizing the report, Col Damoah said: “Anybody who has read that report very well, would know the basis of that and luckily for me, God is always on my side. Before that report came, that person had made statement to some people who had come (to tell me that), he was going to publish something that will discredit me and he will do that and I even sent people to go and tell him that he’s a small boy and I am older than him. I have lived a meaningful life and if he attempts to destroy me, it won’t be easy for him.

“People have tried it, I have survived and this one too I will survive.”

The GRA however said its Board and Management have followed media discussions and reactions following the release of the Report of the Office of the Special Prosecutor’s investigation into alleged commission of corruption and corruption related offences involving Labianca Group of companies and the Customs Division of GRA, and  assured the general public that prior to the release of the OSP’s report, it had taken steps to streamline and improve on the processes of accurately determining values of imported items and products.

“With the inauguration of the new GRA Board of Directors in August 2021, the Authority took firm steps to deal with practices or procedures that had the potential of reducing or not giving maximum value to transactions at importation. One of such measures was to give a directive in December 2021 that with immediate effect no discounts or rebates are given on items or products at importation and to cancel all existing approved discounts,” it added.

The GRA indicated that it is ensuring that all unreasonable exercise of discretionary power which will result in the loss of revenue will be prevented.

“GRA uses this opportunity to assure all stakeholders of GRA and the general public that GRA has taken steps to ensure that all allegations of impropriety on the part of any of its staff are promptly and decisively investigated and that all cases of tax evasion or other acts that are contrary to the Laws governing the Authority will be dealt with,” it said.

The Labianca Company Limited, a frozen food company owned by Ms Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh, a member of the Council of State, was compelled to pay an amount of GH¢1,074,627.15 into the Asset Recovery Account of the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP).

The payment in compliance with a directive issued by the Special Prosecutor, represents a shortfall in import duties arising from the issuance of “unlawful” customs advance ruling in favour of the company between 2017 and 2021.

The 12-page Investigative Report published by the OSP, dated August 3, 2022, accused Ms Asomah-Hinneh of influence peddling by employing her position as a member of the Council of State and a member of the Board of Directors of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to secure a favourable reduction in benchmark values on frozen goods imported by Labianca.

The Report further said on November 16, 2021, the (OSP) received a written complaint from one Frank Asare against Labianca Group of Companies and its subsidiaries and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

The Report also noted that the complainant alleged corrupt, illegal and dealings between Labianca and the Customs Division resulting in the reduction of benchmark values of frozen food products imported by Labianca “under the guise of customs advance rulings.”

By Emmanuel K Dogbevi

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