Fresh revelations at the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) point to alleged infractions involving the Commissioner of Customs, Col. Kwadwo Damoah (Rtd) and other top officers.
A letter from the National Security dated October 21, 2021, questioned the Customs Division’s conduct during the impounding of some suspicious trucks then.
Deputy National Security Coordinator at the time, Edward Asomani, wrote to the GRA lamenting the conduct of its officers.
In the leaked document sighted by Myjoyonline, some trucks loaded with goods were impounded on October 8, last year, after intelligence found that the items had not been described appropriately.
“Reports indicate that a Customs Intelligence team of the Customs—Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (CD-GRA) led by John Agbawu, with assistance from operatives of the Special Monitoring Team (SMT) of the National Intelligence Bureau, on 08/10/2021, intercepted and arrested two cargo trucks at DZORWULU traffic Light, near Fiesta Royale Hotel in Accra on suspicion of under-declaration and misdescription of goods,” it read.
The trucks which entered the country through Aflao were escorted to the Customs Laboratory Division at Airport Roundabout for re-examination.
The further assessment confirmed that many of the goods in the trucks were “undeclared and thus, no duties were paid on same.”
How the officers were directed to release the traders and the goods is what seems to have taken the National Security operatives aback.
Per the letter to the GRA, Edward Asomani explained that “the traders were discourteous towards the arresting officers, with one of them allegedly placing a call to Col. DAMOAH, Commissioner of CD-GRA.”
“Subsequently, AGBAWU received a call from one Kojo BONSU, Staff Officer to the Commissioner, instructing him to release the trucks unconditionally.”
The arresting Customs officer, Mr Agbawu, is said to have “received another call from Adu KYEI, Deputy Commissioner of Operations, CD-GRA who also gave similar instructions.”
“Additionally, the trader who placed the call to Col, DAMOAH recorded the arresting officers on video, to be forwarded to him.”
Essentially, the persons were later released allegedly on the orders of the Commissioner of Customs Division of the GRA, Col. Kwadwo Damoah.
The Division’s top officer is currently at loggerheads with the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) over a report earlier this month which uncovered alleged corruption supervised by the former’s outfit leading to a loss of revenue to the state.
The report, which Col. Damoah says is geared towards tarnishing his image, led to the recovery of ¢1 million in duties shortfall from Labianca CEO, Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh over influence-peddling claims.
The report has also triggered a wider probe into activities at the Customs to help plug leakages for which reason the OSP has called for all documents regarding the issuance of rulings and benchmark values applied dating back to 2017.
Mr Kissi Agyebeng has also commenced a full-blown investigation into suspected corruption-related activities in vehicle auction sales and also halted all vehicle auctions until investigations, which span 2017 to date, are over.
But even before the dust settles on these developments, the new letter surfaced.
It was revealed, after the re-examination, that a substantial number of goods in the trucks were undeclared and thus, no duties were paid on same.
The National Security further called on the GRA to commence an investigation into the conduct.
“Given the implications of this development, particularly those related to tax evasion, on the domestic revenue mobilization efforts of GRA, your outfit is urged to investigate the matter and update this Ministry accordingly.”
The letter also demanded that the GRA takes steps “to prevent senior officials from undermining the work of customs officers at the various custom checkpoints across the country.”
It is unclear yet the response of the GRA to this said of the letter.
But it comes at a very crucial time when the port has caught the attention of the OSP.