Anti-graft campaigner, Vitus Azeem has criticized the Commissioner of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Colonel (Rtd.) Kwadwo Damoah, over his poor handling of the accusations brought against him in the Office of the Special Prosecutor’s (OSP) investigative piece involving Labianca Company Limited.
Mr. Azeem pointed out that, it was only appropriate for the Commissioner to set the records straight on the matter rather than waging a war.
“The report was not surprising but as for the action from the Commissioner, I think that, it was unfortunate and uncalled for.”
Col. Damoah has publicly spoken about underlying friction between him and the Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyabeng.
He said the report is meant to tarnish his reputation following his refusal to second one of his men, one Mr. Akrugu, to the office of the Special Prosecutor.
“If you read it [report] very well, there is nothing in it. It is hollow. I even sent people to go and tell him [Kissi Agyabeng] that he is a small boy. I am older than him. f he attempts to destroy me, it won’t be easy for him. People have tried it. I have survived, and this one too, I will survive” Col. Damoah said.
Reacting to this on The Big Issue, Vitus Azeem advised Col. Damoah to cease fire and work with the Special Prosecutor’s office to help tackle the fundamental issues.
“Instead of explaining the allegations made against you and defend that you have not done anything wrong, you personalized the whole matter at a forum that was inappropriate. I expected him to deal with the issues.”
“Both the Special Prosecutor and the Commissioner have been appointed by the President so they are equal at that level but playing different roles. So it is not about whether he is a small boy but he must work together with the Special Prosector and not have conflict with him”, he emphasized.
Col. Damoah’s role in Labianca’s actions
A Deputy Commissioner of Customs in charge of Operations, Joseph Adu Kyei, was cited for issuing unlawful customs advance ruling per the Special Prosecutor’s report.
This led to the reduction of the values of intended imports between a range of 5 percent and 10 percent
below the benchmark values.
The ruling was said to have been approved by Col. Damoah and did not appear to have been brought to the notice of the Commissioner-General, according to the report.
The report also noted that Col. Damoah “acknowledged the disingenuity of the outcome by admitting that the applicants did not meet the legal requirements for the issuance of customs advance ruling.”
Though Col. Damoah distanced himself from the wrongdoing, the Special Prosecutor found that he gave
his “tacit approval”.
The focus of the story has been on a Council of State member, Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh, who owns Labianca Company and is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA).
She was accused of allegedly using her position to get a favourable decision from the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, leading to a reduction in her company’s tax liabilities.
The Special Prosecutor has since recovered GHS 1 million from Labianca.
The money was recovered as a shortfall of revenue arising from the issuance of the unlawful customs advance, meant to be duties paid to the state following the importation of the frozen foods.