GRA arrests 4 over diversion
The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has caused the arrest of four individuals, who allegedly diverted goods from a Free Zone Enclave meant for exportation to Paga in the Upper East Region.
The suspects are Kwame Agbah, a staff of COMET; Seth Nyarko of Magnate Technology; John Tetteh, who is a driver of vehicle registered GT 5160-12 and Daniel Owusu, a driver’s mate.
According to the Director-General of GRA, Emmanuel Kofi Ntim, they were arrested on Friday, November 9, 2018 after the Authority received information that goods destined for Paga were being discharged at Nungua in the Greater Accra Region.
“On Friday 9th November, 2018, acting upon intelligence that a consignment of Free Zone goods released for export to Paga the previous day had been diverted and being discharged at Nungua. I immediately dispatched the surveillance team to the spot where the goods were being discharged and intercepted them,” the Director-General told journalists at GRA Headquarters during a press briefing on Monday in Accra, where the four suspects were paraded.
According to him, on November 6, 2018, Ken Freight Logistics, licensed Customs House Agents, acting on behalf of COMET Ghana Limited, a registered Free Zone operator with no. F003, lodged a declaration with no. 92018485497 in the Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS) to export 3,000 cartons of assorted wine to the Paga Duty Free Shop.
He said “the goods were removed from its warehouse located at the Tema Free Zone enclave. The consignment, made of 2000 cartons (12 bottles each) of Don Garcia and 1,000 cartons Simon Sangria wine valued at GH¢139,359.89, is said to attract a duty liability of GH¢88,957.47”
“On 5th November, 2018, following the presentation of Commercial invoice with no TW-PAG (058/18) to the Resident Officer, Revenue Assistant 1, Anthony Ahadzi, vehicle with registration no. GT 5160-12 driven by John Tetteh was loaded with the goods, enroute to Paga. The Officer raised a Landing Account with no. 0288475 to authenticate the transaction,” he said.
Upon their arrests at Nungua, he said, one of the suspects, Samuel Kwame Agbah tried to bribe the team with GH¢2,000 with a promise to add more subsequently.
He stated that the team rejected the bribe and handed them over to the Marine Police for interrogation and detention.
“It was discovered that the seal had been opened with its key. Investigation is yet to discover who provided the key to the principal suspect Samuel Agbah of COMET,” he said.
The Director-General observed that the truck and its contents have been detained pending re-examination and proper reassignment, saying the Free Zone Operator is yet to report.
“A detailed examination of the GCNet system revealed that from 1st September 2018 to date, 39 exportations had been done by COMET Ltd. This will be subjected to further investigations to determine whether the goods indeed reached their destinations or otherwise,” he said.
According to the Director-General, COMET Ghana Limited happens to be one of the four registered Free Zone companies operating duty free shops at various border posts across the country, including Osei Kojokrom, Elubo, Aflao, Gonokrom and Paga.
Duty free shops in Ghana, he said, do not pay taxes on their imports, adding that “it has always been our suspicion that the regime was being abused. It’s for this reason that GRA has issued an advert stating that effective 1st December 2018, Duty Free Shops will pay customs duty and taxes at the time of importation and apply for refund.”
“We also want to state that the operations of all Duty Free Shops are going to be subjected to comprehensive audit,” he added.