The Commissioner of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Col. Kwadwo Damoah, (RTD) has accused the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) of attempting to bring him down.
This was after the OSP recovered over GHC1 million GHC1,074, 627.15) from Labianca Foods in unpaid import duties, a scandal involving a company belong to a Council of State member.
Speaking at a Customs Division Management Retreat in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region, Col. Damoah said of the report: “If you read it very well, there is nothing in it. It is hollow.”
He also indicated underlying friction between him and the Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyabeng.
“I even sent people to go and tell him [Kissi Agyabeng] that he is a small boy. I am older than him,” Col. Damoah said.
“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 Commissioner believes the report is meant to tarnish his reputation following his refusal to second one of his men, one Mr. Akrugu, to the office of the Special Prosecutor.
“He [Akrugu] deals with tariffs and valuation and therefore, I cannot second him to the office of the Special Prosecutor because he has a primary role to play in customs.”
Col. Damoah said Mr. Akurugu subsequently resigned, joined the Special Prosecutor and made allegations against him.
The Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) in a report indicated how they recovered GH¢1.074 million from Labianca Company Limited, owned by a member of the Council of State, Ms Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh.
A copy of the report available to PrimeNewsGhana dated August 3, 2022, titled: "Report of Investigation into Alleged Commission of Corruption and Corruption Related Offences involving Labianca Group of Companies and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority" said the amount represents a shortfall in import duties the frozen foods company paid to the state.
"On 21 March 2022 the Special Prosecutor issued an interim directive to Labianca Company Limited to pay an amount of One Million Seventy-Four Thousand cedis Six Hundred and Twenty-Seven cedis Fifteen pesewas (GHC1,074,627.15), representing the short collection or shortfall of revenue arising from the issuance of the unlawful customs advance ruling by the Deputy Commissioner for Customs in charge of operations, Mr. Joseph Adu Kyei into the Asset Recovery Account of the Office of the Special Prosecutor"
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.
"The OSP finds that there is strong evidence to suggest that Mr Kyei's decision to issue a customs advance ruling for the applicant was procured through influence peddling or trading of influence by Ms Asomah-Hinneh by employing her position as a member of the Council of State and member of the Board of Directors of the GPHA, the report, signed by the Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng, stated.