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FULL REPORT: Uncovering Rot, Council of State Member Returns a Whoping Million Ghana Cedis In a Special Prosecutor Investigation

The said owner and star complicit in the investigation also doubles as a council of state member and a member of the board of directors of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority; positions the OSP says she conveniently leveraged to outwit customs laws and orders.

The office of the special prosecutor led by Kissi Agyebeng has recovered in excess of a million Ghana Cedis from La Bianca Company Limited, a company that’s owned by Ms Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh. The said owner and star complicit in the investigation also doubles as a  council of state member and a member of the board of directors of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority; positions the OSP says she conveniently leveraged to outwit customs laws and orders.

BACKGROUND

When the SP’s office received a written complaint detailing ongoing corrupt deeds, illegal and sneaky dealings between La Bianca Company Limited, its subsidiaries( Rafano Frozen Foods Company Limited and Yoba Capital Limited) and the enablers, the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority under Colonel (Rtd.) Kwadwo Damoah and Mr Adu Kyei. Upon determination that the case fell within their jurisdiction, it acted swiftly to investigate under L.I. 2374.

FINDINGS

Under section 79 of Act 959, the chief complicit is regarded as a politically exposed citizen, by dint of her position as a member of the council of state.

A position the SP vividly stated in his report was used to coin in the favour. It said, “ it would appear that the coincidence of the indicated applications and the public office appointments of Ms Asomah-Hinneh was not altogether accidental. There is strong evidence to suggest that the events are a product of influence peddling”

The report further cited the deputy commissioner of customs, Mr Kyei as the enabler whose actions conjoined with the council of state member to outsmart the system and cause financial loss to the state.

The report said in part that, “Mr Adu Kyei’s decision to render an advance ruling to the applicants by reducing the values of their intended imports between a range of 5% – 10% below the benchmark values was wrongful and unsupported by the requirements of the law for the issuance of customs advance ruling. Mr Adu Kyei wilfully put aside the law by embarking on his own predilections.

“The OSP finds that Mr Adu Kyei’s decision to issue customs advance ruling to the applicants, resulted in a short collection or shortfall in revenue in the amount of One Million Seventy-Four Thousand cedis Six Hundred and Twenty- Seven cedis Fifteen pesewas (GHC1,074,627.15) from a total of five hundred and thirty-one (531) declarations in respect of Labianca.

Therefore, it lies ill in Mr Adu Kyei’s mouth to claim that he saved the Republic financial loss by his conduct; and his claimed bases for his decision are unsupportable afterthought”

The report once again cited the second enabler in the person of Colonel (Rtd.) Damoah as having permitted the wrongdoing to be done. The OSP in his report said in part that. “ “The OSP finds that though Colonel (Rtd.) Damoah sought to distance himself from Mr Adu Kyei’s decision during his interview on 16 February 2022, he gave his tacit approval to the decision and the determination stood to the benefit of the applicants. Indeed, Mr Adu Kyei’s decision would not have passed muster but for Colonel (Rtd.) Damoah’s apparent approval. The halfhearted seeming recantation is unhappily belated and does not absolve Colonel (Rtd.) Damoah of ultimate responsibility for the apparently contrived decision”

MONEY RECOVERED

With a strong basis and due diligence done, the OSP on March day of 21st 2022, directed La Bianca Company Limited to pay the sum of One Million Seventy-Four Thousand cedis Six Hundred and Twenty-Seven cedis Fifteen pesewas (GHC1,074,627.15), representing the short collection or shortfall of revenue arising from the issuance of the unlawful customs advance ruling by the Deputy Commissioner for Customs in charge of operations, Mr Joseph Adu Kyei into the Asset Recovery Account of the Office of the Special Prosecutor.

According to the report, La Bianca Company Limited has heeded that direction accordingly.

The OSP has further directed a wider investigation to be conducted, regarding the issuance of customs advance rulings and markdown of benchmark values between July 2017 and December 2021.

This is a good feat for the fight against corruption, undoubtedly, however, like many of the special prosecutor’s legal mandate, the public expects a swift prosecutorial process to commence from his office on this matter.

Read the full report here.

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