Business News of 2014-04-19

Top Industries hot for breaking Free zones regulations

The Special Operations Unit at the Office of the President has, in conjunction with the police, impounded 560 barrels of alcohol imported by a company in the Free Zones enclave on the pretext of using the alcohol for manufacturing, only for it to end up on the open market.

Two officials of Top Industries Limited have been arrested and are assisting the police in investigations.

Also invited for questioning is an officer of Excellent Company Limited, the company that bought the alcohol.

Dr Clement Apaak, the Spokesman of the unit, yesterday led journalists to the sites where the alcohol, which should have fetched the government about GH¢93,978.60 in taxes, was kept.

Top Industries had indicated on the official documents that the item was meant to be used by the company in the printing industry.

Under the Free Zones system, companies within the enclave do not pay taxes on the raw materials they import.

The importing company is obliged by law to use the imported products only in the manufacture of its goods.

Dr Apaak warned other companies in the Free Zones that his outfit was up to its mandate and would descend heavily on offending companies, saying, “You can’t bring raw materials through the Free Zones and sell them.”

The Special Unit was set up this year to check and authenticate fraudulent practices that have led to the government losing huge sums of revenue.

Dr Apaak said when the unit started tracking down fraudulent practices in the bonded warehousing system, people began using the Free Zones system to try to outwit officers of the unit.

Therefore, he said, when information reached his outfit about the activities of Top Industries, a decision was taken to track down the company, which yielded results.

“We started tracking the goods and located them. We apprehended the company officials, investigations have started and they have admitted their wrongdoing. This is to demonstrate to people who had doubts about the work the task force is doing that we are up to the task given us,” Dr Apaak said.

He indicated that the unit would continue to work in the interest of the nation to give meaning to the confidence the President had reposed in it.

He said what the unit was doing should not be misconstrued as an attempt to kill local industries, adding, “We must know that there are laws in this country and no one is above the law.”

Dr Apaak said there were many other investigations currently underway to unravel some of the corrupt practices in the system.

In terms of the generality of the work being done by the Special Operations Unit, he said, more than 250 companies had been tracked down for non-payment of tax.

“Following this, about GH¢320 million in unpaid taxes have been retrieved,” he revealed.

“We indicated that after that we were going to submit the files on the case to the Police CID and, as I speak to you, the CID has invited them to come and respond,” he said.

He commended citizens who provided information to the task force leading to the arrest of the offenders.

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