Govt uncovers massive fraud at bonded warehouse
More than 280 private and public companies have been cited for allegedly evading the payment of taxes amounting to $367 million over a seven-year period.
A presidential task force uncovered the alleged massive tax fraud which was perpetrated in bonded warehouses in Accra between 2005 and 2012.
Some of the major companies cited in the report of the task force are United Steel Company Limited, $86,059,463; the Hippo Group of Companies, $48,440,486; Trusty Foods Limited, $20,890,556, and Movelle Company Limited, $20,489,556.
Others are Dry Food Processing Company Limited, $8,214,537; Caitec Delta Limited, $7,439,870; Euro Food Ghana Limited, $2,285,603; B5 Plus Limited, $15,519,729, and CCTC Ghana Limited, $10,394,130.
State agencies such as the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), $877,329; the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), $2,354,048, and the Ministry of Communications, $1,729,249, have also been implicated in the report.
The companies are said to have connived with some officials of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to commit the fraud on the state.
The companies, which often kept their imports in bonded warehouses manned by the state or customs officials, were supposed to pay duties before clearing them.
However, they succeeded in compromising customs officials and cleared the goods without paying the required amounts to the state.
The government has given the affected companies up to the end of November 2013 to settle their indebtedness.
A Presidential Staffer, Dr Clement Apaak, told the Daily Graphic that action would be taken against officials of the companies if they failed to clear their indebtedness after the deadline.
To ensure accountability, he said, a special account would be opened under the Ministry of Finance into which the amounts owed the state would be paid and indicated that the public would be given updates.
Meanwhile, Dr Apaak said, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service had started investigations to establish the identities of all the customs officers involved in the fraud for the necessary legal action to be taken against them.
Based on the revelation of the fraud, he said, the government was working on a system to ensure a better surveillance mechanism and controlled system of monitoring at the bonded warehouses.
‘Security officers will be stationed at the various warehouses,’ he said.
Dr Apaak said the medium to long-term measure was to centralise all the bonded warehouses.
“Instead of scattered warehouses, we will confine them to one place to ensure transparency,” he said.
He said the uncovering of the duty fraud showed that President John Dramani Mahama and the government would not leave any stone unturned in the fight against corruption.
By Musah Yahaya Jafaru/Daily Graphic/Ghana
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