The Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) has provided updates on its investigations into issuance of customs advance rulings and markdowns of benchmark values.
In a release, the OSP disclosed that he has commenced a wider investigation into the issuance of customs advance rulings and markdowns of benchmark values between July 2017 and December 2021.
It further stated that he has directed Col. Kwadwo Damoah, (RTD) to submit particulars of all applications for customs advance rulings, applications for markdown of benchmark values among others to the OSP Office on, or before September 2022.
The OSP has also directed the GRA to submit an Integrity Plan designed with the aim of preventing the corruption of the exercise of discretion by officials of the Customs Division.
This comes on the back of how the OSP recovered GH¢1.074 million from Labianca Company Limited, owned by a member of the Council of State, Ms Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh.
The report accused Ms Asomah-Hinneh of influence-peddling for allegedly using her position as a member of the Council of State and member of the Board of Directors of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to get a favourable decision from the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), which led to a reduction in the tax liabilities of Labianca Limited.
Influence-peddling or trading of influence is a form of corruption in which a person uses his or her position or political influence to gain unmerited favours.
The OSP faulted a Deputy Commissioner of Customs in charge of Operations, Joseph Adu Kyei, for issuing what it described as unlawful customs advance ruling which reduced the benchmark values of the frozen foods imported by Labianca Limited, thereby reducing the company's tax obligations to the state, reports Graphic Online's Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson.
It would be recalled that the Customs Staff Association (CSA) jumped to the defence Colonel Kwadwo Damoah, over the Division’s position on the corruption-related offence established by the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) against Labianca Group Limited.
The Association said the investigation conducted by the OSP is “misconceived and is borne out of the misconception.”
It added that the Benchmark Values used by the OSP as a method of valuation rather than a risk management tool are inconsistent with the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Rules on Customs Valuation and Section 67 of the Customs Act.
Based on this, it deems the findings of the OSP as “technically flawed.”