Posted: Thursday 29th May 2014 at 13:06 pm

3 arrested for attempt to illegally export charcoal

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Three persons were arraigned at the Accra High Court Wednesday, charged with attempting to illegally export seven 40-footer containers of charcoal to Europe and the Middle East.

One of the accused persons allegedly presented GH¢15,000 to the arresting officers as bribe for them to allow the illegal exportation of the charcoal.

The seven 40-footer containers of charcoal have been impounded at the Tema Harbour.

The accused persons are Emmanuel Ndeogo, a freight forwarder living at Ashaiman; Ali Deris, an Italian businessman resident in Ghana and Chief Executive Officer of Golden Way Merchant Limited, and Mercy Bentil, a businesswoman living at Edibim Danho in the Central Region.

They pleaded not guilty to all five counts and were granted bail in the sum of GH¢20,000 each with two sureties, one of whom should be a public officer.

They are to reappear on June 25, 2014. Charges
The charges include attempting to commit crime, that is, exportation of charcoal without licence contrary to Section 8 of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) and Section 8 (1) (4) of the Renewable Energy Act, 2011 (Act 832), and exportation of charcoal without licence contrary to Section 8 (1) (4) of Act 832.

The rest are forgery of official documents contrary to Section 158 of the Criminal Offences Act; uttering forged documents contrary to Section 169 of the Criminal Offences Act, and giving bribe to influence a public officer contrary to Section 252 of the Criminal Offences Act. Facts of case

Prosecuting, Superintendent Faustina Agyeiwaa Kodua Andoh-Kwofie told the court that the accused persons were arrested on February 5, 2014 when they tried to illegally export seven 40-footer containers of charcoal to Europe and the Middle East.

She said investigations established that Ndeogo, who was once an agent for Oskan Industries Limited, a licensed charcoal exporter, photocopied and forged the licence number – EC/CEL/12-12-001 – of the said company.

Superintendent Andoh-Kwofie said Ndeogo forged the expiry dates of the said licence to read ’20th December, 2014′ instead of ’20th December 2013′, adding that the accused also forged the exportable tonnage allowed to read ’900 tonnes’ instead of ’500 tonnes’.

She said investigations further revealed that Ndeogo used the forged licence to export five 40-footer containers of charcoal belonging to Deris.

‘The accused persons labelled the container as ‘shea cake’ to avoid detection by the Energy Commission,’ she said. Arrest

Superintendent Andoh-Kwofie said intelligence gathered revealed the illegal exportation engaged in by the accused persons, and in their attempt to export the seven 40-footer containers of charcoal, they were arrested.

She said Ndeogo allegedly presented GH¢15,000 to the arresting officers ‘in order to corrupt them to allow the illegal export’.

Superintendent Andoh-Kwofie said Ndeogo admitted to forging the licence number of Oskan Industries Limited which he used to illegally export containers of charcoal.

She said it was found that Golden Way Merchant Limited was an incorporated body and licence exporter of charcoal with a quota of 150 tonnes, but it resorted to illegal exportation of charcoal procured from the open market.

With respect to Mercy Bentil, Superintendent Andoh-Kwofie said although she was not a licensed exporter of charcoal, she engaged in illegal exportation of charcoal. Advice

Meanwhile, the Legal Officer of the Energy Commission, Ms Cecilia Agbenyega, has advised prospective exporters of charcoal to obtain licence from the commission in order to not fall foul of the law.

She said it was an offence for anyone to buy charcoal from the open market for export.

She said the objective of the Renewable Energy Act was to prevent the depletion of the country’s forest for illegal charcoal production and export.

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