The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) is pursuing a Turkish owned company, PROTEUS Ltd, for failing to pay duties on items it reportedly cleared on permit from the Tema Port, which run into thousands of Ghana Cedis.
The Chronicle’s investigations revealed that the vessel MV PENELOPE, sailed from Valencia in Italy, and berthed at the Tema Port, on the 19th of June, 2014 with construction equipment on board.
The Chronicle discovered that a certain Alhaji introduced Mr. Julius Nyamson, a clearing and forwarding agent to the management of Proteus Ltd to clear the items and was subsequently handed with shipment documents to move the items.
The Operations Manager of Proteus Ltd, Franklin Cudjoe, however, debunked the allegation. According to him, it was rather his company that paid ˘140,000 to Julius Nyamson, aka Pee, who owns JTN Logistics in Tema, but after clearing the last container, refused to render accounts and had since vanished from their sight.
According to him, the money that was paid to ‘Pee’ was based on a proposed estimate that the former submitted to enable him to clear the five (5) containers of construction equipment.
The agent, Nyamson, on the other hand, is claiming that the Turkish company is not being fair to him. According to him, by the time he was handed the documents to clear the containers, the goods had overstayed resulting in a huge demurrage they were ordered to pay.
He alleged that after taking into consideration the demurrage, shipping line charges and rent at Meridian Port Services (MPS), he suggested to Proteus Ltd that they should rather apply to Customs to allow them to clear on permit. This is a concession given to companies in good standing to pay deposits of part of the duty element and be allowed up to twenty-one (21) days to perfect its documents in order to settle the outstanding commitment after clearing.
Armed with this provision, Nyamson reportedly applied to customs and claimed that approval was given for the five containers to be cleared on permit after he deposited the required initial amount in the region of GHc20, 000. He further claimed that he went to settle their obligations to the shipping line – Delmas, MPS and the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, which enabled him to lift the containers from the port for the importer, Proteus Ltd.
According to him, he cleared the first four containers, and after three weeks, i.e. the 21 days stipulated by law, Proteus Ltd started playing hide and seek with him and this culminated in the amount still being outstanding.
The Chronicle gathered that Proteus Ltd, which dissatisfied with the development, put pressure on Nyamson to clear the last container, and when he was not obliging because the outstanding duty had not been cleared, the Turkish company went to the Tema Regional Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and lodged a complaint against ‘Pee’ and his company.
When invited, Nyamson narrated the arrangement he reportedly entered into with Customs which enabled him to clear the four containers on permit and that since the outstanding amount had not been settled, he could not have gone ahead to clear the last container.
Highly placed sources at the Tema Regional CID intimated that the office persuaded the Turkish company, led by Franklin Cudjoe, to settle the amount but Proteus offered an excuse that they were using equipment in the container to execute a Bank of Ghana project. According to the Police, the company claimed that without the items in the fifth container, the state organization would not pay them.
Based on this information, which the Turkish Company gave to the police, Nyamson told The Chronicle that he went to the Second-In-Command of Customs at the Tema Collection Point, an Assistant Commissioner and after putting across his problem, the lady-Commissioner allowed the fifth container to be cleared with the view that Proteus Ltd’s alleged claim of Bank of Ghana paying them would be realized.
Interestingly instead of using JTN Logistics Ltd, which was offered the contract to clear the items, Nyamson used a different forwarding company – KNIGHTS LAMP LTD – situated in the Ghana Commercial Bank, Meridian Branch building in Tema to clear the container. When Customs investigations later revealed that the duties had still not been paid, ‘blocked’ Knights Lamp Ltd from operating.
When Management of Knight Lamp noticed the embargo placed on them, Customs investigators invited them to the Long-room in Tema to assist with further enquiries. Investigators later discovered that Proteus Ltd had something to do with the case and when they were invited, their management; this time in reaction went to Accra Regional Police and reported a case of fraud against JTN Logistics and Julius Nyamson. The police led by Detective Ben Soglo accompanied Proteus officials to the Customs offices in Tema.
Based on the briefing by the Customs investigato and the explanation Proteus also offered, the onus fell on Nyamson to proof his innocence with documentary evidence.
The Accra Central Police led by Regional Crime Officer, Chief Superintendent Paul Sampson Kantomah confirmed to this reporter that his outfit was investigating such a case and that they are calling on Julius Nyamson to assist them to unravel the mystery. The Police officer further stated that if Nyamson fails to avail himself, they would be compelled to go to court to obtain warrant for his arrest.
Meanwhile, the Tema Regional CID is equally investigating the same case in which Nyamson has submitted all relevant documents in respect of the transactions.The Customs investigators at Tema, on their part said if the outstanding amount is not paid, they would place embargo on Proteus Ltd, being the name in their books. More anon.
Source: The Chronicle
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