Customs Officer In Trouble As Presidential Taskforce Retrieve GH¢320M For Government
An Indian National and Managing Director (MD) of Alsafa International Trading Company, is in the grips of the Ghana Police, for evading tax to the tune of a whopping ¢5.26, 870.21 billion – old Ghana Cedis – covering 30, 000 bags of rice he clandestinely took out from a Customs Bonded Warehouse.
Murtaza Khan, who is now on bail, has admitted to the crime and has revealed that a Customs Officer by name, Kate Kotey Kai, stationed at Bonded Warehouse No A/61 located at Osu-Accra, actively helped him to dupe the State.
The Indian company, has also pledged to pay the huge amount, but in installments with the first payment of ¢500 million paid into State coffers.
Documents written by Alsafa International Trading Company in possession of The Herald, show that the Indian owners are begging in the name of God and pleading to be given a second chance.
Ms. Kai, has been interdicted by the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), but shockingly, her superior officers are refusing to hand her over to the Police to process her for court.
Last week, the police were to take custody of Ms. Kai for their investigation, but CEPS did not hand her over.
Other documents available to The Herald, indicate that Alsafa International Trading Company, which had imported 30, 000 bags of rice into the country unlawfully, sold 27, 000 bags without settling duty, taxes and levies payable to the Custom Division of the GRA, because in his words, he bribed the officer in-charge, Ms Kai to have access to the grains.
This paper’s information is that Ms Kai’s superiors are denying the Police the needed co-operation by producing her to help with their investigation; they fear that upon her arrest and prosecution; she might blow their cover.
It is suspected that she is not alone. Indeed, the situation is widespread with some top level officers at CEPS involved.
As at the time the Presidential Taskforce stormed the warehouse, only 3,352 bags of the rice was found, according to a document signed by the Chief Collector-Warehouse, George Attah-Kruffie.
The Indian, after his arrest and admission of guilt, has made a ¢500 million (GH¢50, 000) payment, being part of the ¢5.26, 870.21 billion (GH¢526,870.21) into a specialized account opened by the Taskforce, whiles investigation is on-going.
The formation of the presidential taskforce by President John Mahama, under the auspices of Chief of Staff, Prosper Bani, last year, has raked over GH¢320 million into State coffers from bonded warehouse operations. The sum is part of billions if not trillions of taxes evaded by importers and traders, who are mostly foreigners; Indians and Lebanese.
The payments, were made in the wake of an ultimatum issued by the Presidential Taskforce. This was done after the information that some importers using the warehouses mostly in Accra, were evading taxes in connivance with Customs officers, and denying the State much needed revenue.
The presidential taskforce is in league with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service, chasing companies that have refused to pay back the taxes they have evaded.
It is an open secret that over the years, Custom officers, have helped importers and businessmen to escape taxes, because they take bribe, which otherwise should have gone to the State for developmental projects.
A Lot of people are importing goods into the country, however, the revenue agencies are not meeting their annual targets.
It is also known now that sometimes in cases where these taxes are collected, the account in which these monies are paid into, are difficult to trace. In most cases, there are documents to show that indeed, payments have been made, but the bank accounts are not traceable.
Since October last year, taxes are being retrieved by the Presidential Taskforce with the CID, also investigating the circumstances that led to the entire incidents.
In the possession of The Herald, are various invitation letters written in January 2014, this year by the CID boss, P.K. Agblor to companies like, Naja David Veneer and Plywood (Kumasi), Eurofood Ghana Limited (Accra), Hippo Limited (Tema) and Movelle Company Limited (Tema), requesting them to report to the Superintendent in-charge of the Commercial Crime Unit (CCU) with their “ex-warehouse documents and receipts of payment for interrogations.
Some of these importers owe the state as huge as GH¢10 million, with custom officers unprepared to go after them for the money.