The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), has welcomed the directive from the Office of the Special Prosecutor to the Commissioner of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority ( GRA) to immediately halt all auction sales till investigations into suspected corruption and corruption-related offences are concluded. The move, according to the communications director of the association, Mr. Joseph Paddy, was long overdue and is optimistic that it will bring some sanity into the operations at the ports.
The Special Prosecutor, Kissi Adjabeng, in a press release on Monday, August 22, stated that the investigations will span the period between July 1, 2016 to August 15, 2022 and has since directed the discontinuation of auction sales of all vehicles and other goods with immediate effect.
In an interview on Joynews Prime monitored by DFS Live News, Mr. Joseph Paddy described the directive as a welcoming news to GUTA saying ” this is what we have called for all these years and all these while and we are happy now”. He revealed that some seized vehicles pass through auction sales for as low as Ghc 2,000 with the beneficiaries being government appointees and top officials of the Customs Division. “Why is it that government will give you [an import] duty of about Ghc 10,000 and if the person was not able to pay, the vehicle will go for auction for only Ghc2,000? Who will import a car and [deliberately] leave the vehicle at the port?” the GUTA spokesman quizzed.
About 314 vehicles and goods worth millions of Ghana cedis have so far been seized by officials of the Customs Division, which are awaiting possible auctions in the coming days but the new directive from the OSP has come as a bad news to the unknown bidders who buy luxuries at outrageous cut-rates.
The Commissioner of the Customs Division has been given up to September 30 this year to furnish the Office of the Special Prosecutor with details of vehicles and all goods auctioned from July 1,2016 to August 15,2022. Details of the particulars and descriptions of all auctioned items; quantity, price, auction dates,full names, addresses and telephone number of successful bidders are to be provided to the OSP to assist the office in its investigation.
Col. Kwadwo Damoah (Rtd), the Commissioner of the Customs Division of GRA drew public reaction when he addressed a press conference earlier this month to respond to some adverse findings made against him by the Special Prosecutor in corruption-related activities involving Labianca Company Limited, a company owned by a Council of State member, Eunice Jacqueline Baah Asamoah Hinneh. According to the OSP’s report, Madam Eunice Baah used her influence to derive favours from the Customs Division. An amount of GHC 1.074m has since been retrieved from Labianca Company Limited.