The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has closed down an Indian fish importing company and effected the arrest of its manager for defaulting tax to the tune of GH¢4,107,645.15 due the state.
A team of officers from the Debt Management Compliance and Enforcement Unit of the Ghana Revenue Office on Friday besieged the premises of Unique Concerns Limited unannounced and locked it up.
They took stock of assets and served notice that the property would be sold in 21 days if the arrears were not settled.
Management of the company has also been charged for falsifying customs declaration documents with a view to averting the payment of customs duties and taxes against the laws of the country.
The amount, which represented taxes between the year 2006 and 2008, was initially GH¢1,956,021.50 which increased to GH¢3,912,043.00 after a 100 per cent penalty was charged.
However, after several demand notices were served to the company without any positive response, the tax administrators were compelled to undertake the distressed actions, which increased the amount to over GH¢4 million after it attracted interest and incidental charges of the distress.
Gershon K. Akpabli, Principal Revenue Officer of the GRA, who lead the team to carry out the distress action, told journalists that in 2006 it was found that some fish importers and their declaring agents were engaging in fraudulent deals at the Tema harbour.
He said the importers falsified trade documents notably bills of ladings, invoices and import declaration forms by changing port of loading of the vessels from Mauritania and Guinea to Namibia in order to obtain lower charges.
“After a careful analysis of the data available, we established that trade documents used by Unique Concerns Limited among other fishing companies, in clearing some consignments of fish imports were falsified by changing the port of loading form Nouadhibou, Mauritania to read Walvis Bay in Namibia.”
In all, about 10 other companies were found to be engaged in the malfeasance.
Mr. Akpabli cautioned importers, who falsify customs declaration forms with the intent of reducing taxes, to desist from such acts.
“The long arm of the law will deal ruthlessly with any person or group of persons engaged in such fraudulent act against the state without fear or favour.”
Muhammadu Muzzamils, Manager of Unique Concerns Ghana Limited, before being led to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) head office in Accra, told journalists that management of the company changed over the years and that he was certain his company had fulfilled all of its tax obligations.
He noted that though the owners of the company which has been operating in Ghana for over 15 years were in India, they were ready to take full responsibility to pay the government any debt owed it, adding “but we must go through the whole transaction again to know if any error occurred. Probably we can re-audit the taxes all over again.”
He confessed that he was aware of the incident which happened between 2006 and 2007. “I know that has been resolved so I do not know why this has popped up again after five years.”
The GRA however insisted that there are documents to prove that the offence was committed by the company and that the managers, who were running the business at the time the malfeasance came to the notice of the authority, were all recalled to Indian and replaced.
This time, the tax administrators said the criminal aspect would be handed over to the police to investigate.
Source: Emelia Ennin Abbey / D-Guide
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