Crime & Punishment of 2014-05-08

Court remands two Indians for smuggling

Two Indian businessmen who allegedly smuggled quantities of Isopropyl alcohol from the Free Zone Enclave were yesterday remanded in custody by the Accra Circuit Court.

The accused — Anil Lakhiani, the Managing Director of Top Industries, and Sundeep Sonu Dhawan, the Managing Director of XLNC Company Limited — were said to have smuggled 400 drums of the alcohol, valued at GH¢380,000, onto the open market.

They pleaded not guilty to four counts of smuggling and are to reappear before the court, presided over by Mr. Francis Obiri, on May 12, 2014.

Prosecuting, Deputy Superintendent of Police Mr. Abraham Annor said Lakhiani’s company was a registered Free Zone company under the Free Zone Act, 1995 (Act 504) and located in the Free Zone Enclave near the Tema Industrial Area, while Dhawan’s was engaged in the importation and sale of alcohol in Ghana.

Lakhiani, he said, was engaged in the manufacture of polythene sacks and some other rubber products which required limited quantities of substances to be used in diluting paint to print various descriptions on the polythene sacks.

For that purpose, Mr. Annor said, Lakhiani was allowed to import quantities of Isopropyl alcohol as raw material for the printing purpose only.

Under the Free Zones Act, he said, raw materials imported for manufacturing purposes by companies registered and operating in the enclave cleared their goods at the port without paying duties.

Based on that, he said, all materials imported by Top Industries, including the Isopropyl alcohol, were imported duty free.

Mr. Annor said Intelligence gathered over a period revealed that the volumes of alcohol imported by Lakhiani were very high and suspicious.

“For the year 2013, Lakhiani imported 6,164 drums of Isopropyl alcohol in 12 consignments and cleared them duty free. These were smuggled out of the Free Zones Enclave and sold on the open market,” he added.

He said between January and March this year, Lakhiani was recorded to have made two imports of 1,320 drums of Isopropyl alcohol “which he cleared duty-free”.

He said investigations revealed that Lakhiani was engaged in the smuggling of the alcohol out of the Free Zone Enclave for sale by Dhawan in the open market.

He said Dhawan owned a warehouse at the South Industrial Area and was the recipient of the smuggled alcohol, which he stored in his warehouse and sold to the public.

On April 2, 2014, Mr. Annor said while the two persons were conveying another 60 drums in the night, an intelligence team from the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority caught up with the transporter.

He said the two persons and other persons connected with the smuggling were arrested and 460 drums, together with 90 drums found in Lakhiani‘s warehouse, were impounded.

He said Lakhiani confessed to the crime and claimed that his company had gone low on production and decided to sell the alcohol to make some money.

Mr. Annor said Dhawan also admitted he was aware the alcohol was imported duty-free into the Free Zone Enclave by Lakhiani.

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