The Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng has said his office has widened the investigations in relation to the Labianca Food scandal to cover customs advance rulings.
The Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) recovered over GHC1 million GHC1,074, 627.15) from Labianca Foods in unpaid import duties, a scandal involving a company belong to a Council of State member.
The OSP also called for wider investigations into Customs Division of the GRA and demanded for a copy of Integrity plans to prevent corruption.
The OSP investigated alleged corruption and corruption related offences in the context of evasion and valuation of duties on frozen and processed food products imported into Ghana between 2017-2021.
The case, according to the OSP involved some high-ranking officials of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
In its report on the investigations, the OSP said “Labianca Company Limited commenced operations in 2014 and it is wholly owned and controlled by Ms. Asomah-Hinneh on all practical and legal considerations. The company, it appears, imports about two hundred (200) forty (40) footer shipping containers of frozen chicken parts, fish, pork and fries monthly primarily from Europe and the United States of America. It enjoys a substantial market share in the imported frozen foods industry.
“There was not much engagement with the Customs Division in the first three (3) years of the company’s operations beyond the settlement of standard customs duty and other tax obligations until 2017 when the company actively commenced applications to the Customs Division for the acceptance by the latter of the values of frozen foods it intended to import.
“By the time the company commenced the applications, Ms. Asomah-Hinneh had been elected a member of the Council of State representing the Western Region and appointed a member of the governing board of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority – positions she held at all material times. On this reckoning, Ms. Asomah-Hinneh is a politically exposed person as defined under section 79 of Act 959.”
In a statement issued on Monday August 15, Mr Kissi Agyebeng said “On the basis of the report, the Office of the Special Prosecutor has commenced a wider investigation into the issuance of the customs advance rulings and mark downs of benchmark values between July 2017 and December 2021.”
The statement added that on August 11 Mr Agyebeng directed the Commissioner of the Customs Division “to submit to the Office of the Special Prosecutor on or before 30 September 2022, the particulars on all applications for customs advanced rulings, applications for markdown benchmarks values, application for private rulings and class rulings pertaining to the applications of customs laws and the decision on each of the applications within the period.”
It is recalled the Commissioner General, Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Col. Kwadwo Damoah, (RTD) launched verbal attacks on the Special Prosecutor describing him as a small boy after he was indicted in the report.
Col. Kwadwo Damoah, (RTD) accused the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) of attempting to bring him down.
His view was that the report was ‘hollow and actuated by malice’.
Addressing some senior Customs officers at a retreat in Kumasi on Wednesday August 10, that he was ready for prosecution and believed he would come out of it.
He said “I am ready for any prosecution and I know I will come out of it.”
“Three days ago a report purported to be coming from the Office of the Special Prosecutor trying to indict the Deputy Commissioner of Operations and myself [but] anybody who has read that report very well will know the basis of that.
“And luckily for Me, God is always on my side, before that report came that person had made a comment to some people who had come to tell me [that] he [Special Prosecutor] was going to publish that will discredit me…and I sent people to go and tell him that he is 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 and I have survived and this one too I will survive it,” Col Damoah said.