The Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng, has cited a member of the Council of State, Ms. Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh, and some officials of the Ghana Revenue Authority in an act of corruption that resulted in the loss of revenue to the state.
In a corruption report issued by the Office of the Special Prosecutor, Ms. Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh, used her positions as a member of the Council of State and a member of the Board of Directors of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority to peddle influence.
The investigation, according to the Special Prosecutor, was occasioned by a complaint from “one Frank Asare against Labianca Group of Companies and its subsidiaries (hereafter, Labianca) and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (hereafter, Customs Division).
“The complainant alleged ongoing corrupt, illegal and questionable dealings between Labianca and the Customs Division resulting in unlawful markdown or reduction of benchmark values of frozen food products imported by Labianca under the guise of customs advance rulings. According to the complainant, the unlawful markdowns or reductions of benchmark values were procured and being procured chiefly because the beneficial owner and Chief Executive of Labianca, Ms. Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh engages in influence peddling through her positions as a member of the Council of State and a member of the Board of Directors of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority.”
The report said in part, “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 cited the Deputy Commissioner for Customs, Mr. Joseph Adu Kyei, as the officer who worked with the Council of State member to reduce the value of imports leading to the loss of revenue to the state.
“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 Fifteeen 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 said.
The Special Prosecutor also named the Commissioner for Customs, Colonel (Rtd.) Kwadwo Damoah, as having permitted the deal to be done.
“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,” Kissi Agyebeng said in the report.
The report said “the admission by the officials of Labianca that that entity did not apply for a customs advance ruling belies Mr. Adu Kyei’s stance and it vividly betrays all pretenses of propriety of action by that official.”
It goes on to conclude that “there is strong evidence to suggest that Mr. Adu Kyei’s decision to issue a customs advance ruling for the applicants was procured through influence peddling or trading of influence by Ms. Asomah-Hinneh by employing her position as a member of the Council of State and a member of the Board of Directors of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority.”
The Special Prosecutor said it had caused the money to be paid back to the state, which has been complied with.
The OSP also has directed “the opening of a wider investigation in respect of the issuance of customs advance rulings and markdown of benchmark values between July 2017 and December 2021.”
Here is the full report from the Special Prosecutor:
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