The Herald is picking up disturbing reports, suggesting an abuse of the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) to further a certain powerful man’s business interest in a matter which dates back to early last year with 15 containers of rice involved.
The OSP’s recent arrests and subsequent slapping of criminal charges on some four individuals, including two Customs officials, have been traced to a certain Alex Takyi Yeboah, a businessman who wields enormous power at the Customs. There are allegations that he has been captured many times with doctored documents to clear goods from the Tema port.
Alex Takyi Yeboah, is also described as the owner of a very famous hotel in Ghana, a clearing agent and a one- time customs officer, who left the service on a rather bizarre note.
The hotelier cum businessman, is said to be chasing James Keck Osei, a Civil Servant in the Office of the Vice President for certain consignment of his which strangely found its way into some 15 containers of rice belonging to Mr Osei whilst on the high seas.
A document in The Herald’s custody has stated that one “Importer/Declarant (FIRSTIDEA CO. LTD) used fictitious documents in passing the Customs Entry, leading to the non-payment of the appropriate duties and taxes, according to the revelation from Shipping line that the 15 containers of Rice were of Thailand Origin”.
Other portions of the document recommended “the declarant (First Idea Company Ltd) who used falsified documents to deceive Customs to make payment be sanctioned to serve as deterrent to others”.
Two other companies, S.P Dream Big Investments and Faithy Ventures were captured by The Herald as being linked to the 15 containers of rice. Faithy Ventures was captured registered as a Sole Proprietorship by one Issah Seidu with TIN being P003305262X and contact number as 0242608669.
One of the documents also in the custody of The Herald reveals as of May 6, 2022, the Commissioner of Customs received a petition from the office of the Vice President of Ghana, requesting for permission to enable the clearance of the 15 containers of rice from the Tema Harbour which was intended to support an upcoming Ramadan festivities.
The Commissioner, consequently directed for the status of the said containers of rice to be verified to enable a determination to be made, hence this report and it was during this investigation that strange things were discovered.
Interestingly, one Albert Akrugu, an ex-Customs Officer in the office of the Special Prosecutor, has been mentioned as leading the prosecution which is thought to have been triggered to satisfy someone’s business interest, rather than a clear infraction of the laws of Ghana.
The accused have been slapped with criminal charges relating to their failure to declare their assets. However, the criminal charges, according to The Herald’s insiders, are intimidatory tactics to get Keck Osei to allow them to have access to the 15 containers holding the suspicious content.
People familiar with the matter told The Herald that Keck Osei, has been locked up in an undisclosed location, but the Customs officers are walking free.
The Customs officers were said to have investigated the matter and found that the said containers had multiple pots of loading, but the same destination.
While, Keck Osei had in his documents that the 15 containers and its content were from Thailand, Alex Takyi Yeboah’s documents mentioned that the containers were coming from Vietnam.
The confusion was to have led to an investigation by the customs officials to determine the true owner. Interestingly, they have also been charged alongside Keck Osei who, unlike Alex Takyi Yeboah, was able to justify his ownership of the 15 containers and the fact it had been consigned to his private company which is registered at the Registrar General’s Department.
The arrest and criminal charges slapped on the officers is to put pressure on Keck Osei to release the containers. Others also feel the arrest is a power play move to subdue the custom officers working in the country’s ports, especially the Tema Port.
The Herald also picked up reports that an initial attempt to frustrate Keck Osei and deny him his containers led him to rush to court to secure a court injunction placed on them. The containers are still at the Tema port, while both parties make the efforts to put their ownership of the consignment before the court.
It’s not clear, how a strange cargo will enter sealed containers while on the high seas, it is also not clear why the CEPS High Command did not have the containers properly inspected to ascertain whether the containers were carrying lawful goods.
There are reports that, Keck Osei is being pushed to withdraw the court injunction and release the containers, and be set free. As of yesterday, Keck was said to still be in custody.
Alex Takyi Yeboah, has in the meantime been described as a “political octopus” who is connected to the political elite.
Meanwhile, the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has distanced himself from James Keck Osei, a civil servant in his office, charged for failing to declare his sources of income in contravention of regulation 20 of LI2374.
The Office of the Special Prosecutor in a statement last Friday, said it has arrested four persons – three public servants and one civil servant – and charged them for failing to declare their sources of income.
The four, Issah Seidu, James Keck Osei, John Abban and Peter Archibald Hyde, appeared before the High Court (Criminal Division) in Accra on Monday, February 13, 2023, but were granted bail and told to report to the OSP anytime they are wanted.
According to the Office of the Special Prosecutor, Mr Seidu works with the National Insurance Commission, while James works with the Office of the Vice President as an administrator.
A statement from the Office of the Vice President confirmed that Mr Keck Osei, is a Civil Servant with many years of working experience at the Jubilee House “dating back to periods before this government came into force.”
The Herald, has established that Keck sent to the Jubilee House under President John Mahama and sent to the then Vice-President Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur.
It, however, stressed that “the facts as disclosed by the charge sheets suggest it is a personal matter, unconnected to the Office or his role in the Office.”
Other media reports that there is a worrying trend in the customs division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) which has to be checked with immediate effect before the state revenue gets compromised under the hidden hand of one Alex Takyi Yeboah.
An internet portal, Modern Ghana reports that a source close to the GRA, has revealed how Mr Yeboah caused the interdiction of over 200 customs officers between 2017 and 2018 as a result of clearance of goods that this agent and 2 others made through the ports which were found not to be above board leading to revenue loss to the state.
The source revealed that the clearing license of the said Agent was revoked as a result of the incident that led to the interdiction. The source further revealed that the agent is back at the port and has become more vicious than before. His modus operandi is to use other agencies to do his jobs for him and will go after any customs officer who dares to interfere in his work.
The source stated that the said agent has the tacit support of the HR department which he uses to victimize officers or place others at strategic schedules to facilitate his work. The source added that recently the agent succeeded in removing almost all the Chief Revenue Officers (CRO’s) from the Post clearance audit department by way of transfer to various places within a very short time for daring to stop containers purportedly belonging to Alex Takyi which is verifiable.
The source further revealed that the agent also made sure that the transfer of the current commander of Takoradi to Tema did not see the light of day by sheer harassment and intimidation after it seemed impossible to reverse that transfer.
“He then went ahead to impose Rosemary Addo Parker, a known close associate of his and who clearly is a threat to revenue generation due to her records and inexperienced in the handling of a specialized unit to be transferred to Customs Technical Service Bureau (CTSB) as the commander” the source said.
This appointment according to the source was rushed in such an indecent manner and contrary to convention in that even though the HR department advertised the position the appointment was made before the date of interview. The source again revealed that the normal practice was for the second in Command to hold the fort until the substantive appointment was made after the interviews.
“It is also interesting to note that the second in command is a senior to Rosemary even though both of them hold the rank of CRO” the source noted. The source established that that department is responsible for the determination of the duty payable and processing of all customs transactions. “This is not surprising as he wants to immobilize the customs activities of that unit and what is surprising though is the acquiescence of the GRA board and the top management.
Further information also revealed that Mr Alex Takyi has also told everyone in the port circles that he is responsible for the appointment of the Special Prosecutor for which reason he has weaponized the outfit for his selfish benefits. According to the source, it is a common knowledge within the port circles.
The source has therefore called on the GRA board to wake up from their slumber otherwise officers will soon accede to the dictates of this agent to the detriment of Ghana as a whole and GRA in particular. More to come on prosecution of some officers for their unexplained wealth.