The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has again found itself in the bad books of the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP).
This time, the Special Prosecutor, Mr Kissi Agyebeng, has directed the Commissioner of the Customs Division, Colonel Kwadwo Damoah, to immediately halt and discontinue all auction sales, till investigation is concluded.
The directives, according to the OSP, stems from suspected corruption and corruption related offences in respect of auction sale of vehicles and other goods by the Customs Division between July1, 2016 to August 15, 2022.
“The Office of the Special Prosecutor has commenced investigation into suspected corruption and corruption-related offences in respect of auction sales of vehicles and other goods by the Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority between 1 July 2016 and 15 August 2022.
“…The Special Prosecutor further directed the Commissioner of the Customs Division to immediately halt and discontinue all auction sales till the investigation is concluded” the document signed by Mr Agyebeng read.
Readers will recall that early this month, the Special Prosecutor indicted Deputy Commissioner in charge of Operations, Mr Joseph Adu Kyei for issuing “unlawful customs advance ruling”.
Mr Kyei’s action is said to have led to the reduction of the benchmark values of the frozen foods imported by Labianca Limited, thereby, reducing the company’s tax obligations to the state.
The Special Prosecutor issued an interim directive to Labianca Company Limited to pay an amount of GH¢1,074,627.15 representing the short collection or shortfall of revenue arising from the issuance of the unlawful customs advance ruling by the Deputy Commissioner into the Asset Recovery Account of the Office of the Special Prosecutor.
But Commissioner of the Customs Division, Colonel Kwadwo Damoah didn’t take this indictment of his office by Mr Kissi Agyebeng lightly and embarked on a journey to clear his office and that of his Deputy Commissioner from any wrong doing.
Colonel Kwadwo Damoah went to the extent of referring to the Special Prosecutor as a “small boy”, a statement he later denied.
Offering explanation to clear himself, Colonel Damoah said the report was hollow, actuated by malice and was a calculated attempt to dent his reputation.
“Anybody who has read that report very well, would know the basis of that and luckily for me, God is always on my side.
“Before that report came, that person had made statement to some people who had come (to tell me that), he was going to publish something that will discredit me and he will do that and I even sent people to go and tell him that he’s a small boy and I am older than him.
I have lived a meaningful life and if he attempts to destroy me, it won’t be easy for him. People have tried it, I have survived and this one too I will survive,” Colonel Damoah said to a thunderous applause by the Senior Customs Officers who had gathered at the function in Kumasi.
But the name calling and threats have not moved the Special Prosecutor, as he has directed the Commissioner to furnish his office with particulars and clear description of all auctioned items, the quantity of all auctioned items, as well as prices at which the items were auctioned on or before September 30.
Other documents requested by the Special Prosecutor was the date of each auction sales, full name, addresses and telephone numbers of the successful bidders at all auction sales.
“On 19 August, 2022 the Special Prosecutor directed the Commissioner of the Customs Division to produce the following to the Office of the Special Prosecutor on or before 30 September 2022: i. The particulars and clear description of all auctioned items,
- The quantity of all auctioned items,
iii. The prices at which the items were auctioned,
- The date of each auction sales,
- The full names, addresses and telephone numbers of the successful bidders at all the auction sales.”
Meanwhile, the Center for Democratic Governance (CDD), has described the brouhaha as an entrenchment of incumbent leaders and political elite capture of Ghana and generally to the alarming decline in governance standards in the 4th republic.
The group has hence called for the urgent need to for an ethics Czar at the Presidency, Executive branch, Council of State and other important decision-making and public resource allocation agencies and institutions.