3 ‘tax evaders’ who smuggled container out of Tema port put before court

BY: Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson

Three persons alleged to have connived to evade tax of more than GH¢84,000 due the state were Thursday put before the Accra Circuit Court.

Graphic Online’s Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson reports from the court that, Doris Asamoah, an importer; Rita Eshun Numo, a freight forwarder; and Stephen Nyarko, a clearing agent, have been accused of smuggling a container from the Tema Port in January 2018 to avoid paying the requisite tax to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

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The three have been charged with conspiracy to evade tax, contrary to Section 59 (1) of the Value Added Tax Act, 2013 (ACT 870), while Asamoah has singularly been charged with evasion of tax, contrary to Section 59 (1) of Act 870.

Section 59 (1) of Act 870 stipulates: “A person who knowingly engages in the evasion of tax or takes steps with a view to evasion of tax payable by that person or any other person commits an offence and is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of not more than three times the tax being evaded or to a term of imprisonment of not more than five years, or to both.’’

Bail


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At Thursday's hearing, the three accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against them, while their lawyers also pleaded with the court to grant them bail.

Counsel for Asamaoh, Mr Paul Kofi Boakye, submitted that his client was a married woman with three children and, therefore, she would not abscond when granted bail but would always make herself available throughout the court proceedings.

Counsel for Numo and Nyarko, Mr Seidu Nasiru, on the other hand, told the court that his clients were innocent and would always appear before the court, when granted bail, to prove their innocence.

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Based on the bail application by counsel, the court, presided over by Mr Aboagye Tandoh, admitted Asamoah to bail in the sum of GHc170,000, with two sureties.

It also admitted Numo and Nyarko to bail in the sum of GHc90,000 each, with two sureties each.

The presiding judge then directed the prosecution to file its witnesses’ statements and other documents it would rely on for the trial and also serve the accused persons.

Hearing continues on January 23, 2019.

Arrival of container

It is the case of the prosecution, led by Superintendent of Police Ms Emelia Asante, that Asamoah imported a 40-footer container filed with goods into the country.

The container arrived at the Tema Port in January 2018 for it to be cleared after Asamoah had paid the requisite duties due the state.

According to Supt Asante, the container was supposed to have been moved from Terminal TCT to Terminal BMT where Asamoah was expected to process the documents and duties before taking delivery of it.

However, she said, Nyarko, in conjunction with two others, Darlington Quartey and one Nana who are now at large, “fraudulently” got the container moved from Terminal TCT but failed to transfer it to Terminal BMT for processing.

“They rather smuggled the container from the Tema Port to Jamestown through a driver to Asamoah. Asamoah also received the container without the requisite documents and quickly disbursed the goods to her customers,’’ the prosecutor added.

Low payment

Supt Asante further told the court that Asamoah gave GHc55,000 to Numo to clear the goods when she knew very well that the amount was less than the requisite duty.

Numo, she explained, also alleged that she gave the money to Darlington to clear the goods, since she (Numo) was only a specialist in clearing cars.

The prosecutor also informed the court that Nyarko, who worked at the BMT Terminal, used his staff identification card to facilitate the release of the container from the terminal to Terminal BMT, and that it was during the transfer from Terminal TCT to Terminal BMT that the container was smuggled from the port.

“That led to the evasion of tax due the state to a tune of GHc84,939.35. While investigations were ongoing, Asamoah and Nyarko quickly paid the evaded tax at the Tema Office of the GRA,’’ she said.

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