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Attempt to evade tax Gas depot closed, Platinum Impex mislabels consignment

BY: Della Russel Ocloo
Deputy Commissioner of Customs, Alhaji Iddrisu Seidu
Deputy Commissioner of Customs, Alhaji Iddrisu Seidu

Following a tip-off by the National Security, the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has sealed two warehouses of Platinum Impex, manufacturers of SIGMA gas cylinders, for allegedly attempting to evade the payment of import duties.

The company is alleged to have imported 14,000 pieces of the finished cylinders, but labelled them as raw materials meant for the production of cylinders in Ghana.

The Deputy Commissioner in charge of Preventive at the Customs Division of the GRA, Alhaji Iddrisu Seidu, told the Daily Graphic that the six-kilogramme (kg) cylinders which were in five 40-footcontainers were detected at the company’s warehouse at the industrial area in Accra last Thursday after the tip-off.

The misdescription of the cylinders as raw materials, he said, was apparently a calculated attempt by the company to evade import duties running into thousands of Ghana cedis.

Alhaji Seidu said an initial scan of the consignment by officials at the Tema Port passed the containers as carrying raw materials.

However, following a tip-off, some officials were assigned to accompany the cargo to the company’s warehouse to supervise the offloading.

In the process, it was detected that the containers had a lot of finished cylinders, with few raw materials which had been used to conceal the finished cylinders from being detected, Alhaji Seidu stated.

Investigations

The Deputy Commissioner said while Customs Division had launched investigations into the incident, the Commissioner of Customs had directed that the company and its agents be suspended from conducting any form of customs-related business at the Tema Port until further notice.

He said the Customs Division was unable to determine the actual revenue presently, owing to the misdescription of the products.

“What we are trying to do is to do a product analysis from our Technical Services Bureau to determine the actual value of the consignment,” he said.

Similarly,  Alhaji Seidu said, officials of the bureau had requested for images from the image analysis done on the cargo to aid investigations so that the Customs Division could apply the necessary sanctions to recover the revenue.

Asked what the motivation was for officials at the Scan Section of the Tema Port to pass the containers which were carrying raw materials, Alhaji Seidu said such a conduct would also be included in the investigations.

He said the idea to reduce turnaround time for all customs procedures at the port brought to the fore the need to abolish the policy of physical examination.

However, he said, if the policy would lead to fraud such as the ones being perpetuated by importers, then there would be the need to review the policy.