Stolen vehicles: CEPS probes Tema gang

car_thief.jpgFour vehicles suspected to have been stolen from Canada have been
intercepted by officials of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service
(CEPS) at the Golden Jubilee Terminal at the Tema Port.

The vehicles are two Toyota FJ Cruisers, a Nissan Murano and the head of an articulated truck.

Wrong
vehicle particulars on the bill of lading from Canada were provided but
new ones suspected to have been issued by a shipping line in Tema
providing the correct vehicle particulars were presented for clearing
on arrival.

According to CEPS officials, the fraudulent deal
was carried out to facilitate the illegal amendment of the manifest in
order to circumvent the eventual seizure of the incorrectly manifested
vehicles.

Although they could not provide figures immediately,
the CEPS officials said there was an increase in the importation of
stolen vehicles into the country.

It was established that car
stealing syndicates were now changing the chassis numbers of the
vehicles from the point of departure to the proper chassis numbers at
the arrival point.

That was a departure from the old trick of not manifesting the stolen vehicles at all, they said.

In
another incident, a Bedford truck, with registration number GR 5008 D
and loaded with 50 bales of textiles and covered with firewood, has
been intercepted.

These came to light when the Minister of
Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu visited the CEPS
Headquarters to interact with the officials yesterday.

Senior
officials of CEPS, including Messrs Africanus Owusu-Ansah, P.K.
Abebrese and Paul Nkansah, all deputy commissioners, and Ms Annie
Anipa, the Assistant Commissioner in charge of Public Relations, took
turns to brief the minister on what CEPS had been doing to support the
government in revenue mobilisation.

Mr Baah-Wiredu said the
government was losing revenue from its incentive package to Ghanaians
to mitigate the rising cost of living as a result of fuel and food
price hikes.

He said it was important that the revenue
mobilisation agencies, particularly CEPS, the Internal Revenue Service
(IRS) and the Value Added Tax Service, endeavoured to be more efficient
in their work.

He commended officials of CEPS whose vigilance, professionalism and hard work exposed such dubious deals.

Mr
Baah-Wiredu said such commitment to work would send a signal to the
international community that Ghana was open for genuine business and
would not allow fraudsters to dent its image.

He appealed to
CEPS to publish the list of auctioneers in good standing. He also urged
the service to submit a list of clearing agents in good standing to the
various Ghanaian missions abroad to help those outside the country to
deal only with accredited agents.

Mr Baah-Wiredu further
advised that the range of duty to be paid on vehicles, depending on
type, year of manufacture and capacity, should be published in the
newspapers.

That, he explained, would help importers know what to pay.

Mr
Owusu-Ansah said CEPS would investigate the stolen vehicles matter to
establish the liability of the clearing agent involved in the
importation of the vehicles and deal with the agency, as well as the
importer, if they were found to be culpable.

He said in the
past, the action taken depended on the outcome of the investigations,
including the payment of the exact duty and a penalty, the confiscation
of the vehicle to be later auctioned or allocated to an agency. He said
often such vehicles were sent back to the countries of origin if it was
established that the vehicles were stolen.

Mr Abebrese said CEPS was collaborating with its international counterparts to expose criminals in the system.

Credit: Daily Graphic