Four persons, who allegedly diverted 3,000 cartons of assorted wines meant for the Paga Duty Free Shop in the Upper East Region, have been arrested by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
The consignment, valued at GH¢139,360, was removed from a warehouse in the Tema Free Zone enclave and smuggled to another warehouse at Nungua in the Greater Accra Region where they were discharged.
The wines included 2,000 cartons of Don Garcia and 1,000 cartons of Don Sangria, which were to attract a duty of GH¢88,957.
The suspects are Seth Nyarko, a worker at Magnate Technology; John Tetteh, a driver; Daniel Owusu, a driver’s mate, and Samuel Kwame Agbah, a worker of Comet Ghana Limited, who also attempted to bribe the GRA surveillance team with GH¢2,000 to stop the arrest.
Briefing journalists on the incident in Accra yesterday, the Commissioner General of the GRA, Mr Emmanuel Kofi Nti, said on November 6, 2018, Ken Freight Logistics, a licensed customs warehouse agent, acting on behalf of Comet Ghana Limited, a registered Free Zone operator, lodged a declaration with number 92018485497 in the Ghana Customs
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Management System (GCMS) to export the 3,000 assorted wine cartons to the Paga Duty Free Shop.
He said the goods were removed from its warehouse located at the Tema Free Zone enclave.
That was after the company had presented a commercial invoice to the GRA Resident Officer, on November 5, 2018, who raised a Landing Account to authenticate the transaction.
“After the said Free Zone declaration had gone through compliance, the goods were finally released by the Resident Officer’’, recounted Mr Nti.
He said the goods were subsequently loaded into a vehicle, with registration number GT 5160—12, driven by Tetteh, enroute to Paga.
According to the commissioner general, the truck was mounted with an electronic tracking (e-trak) device with the number 612788, obtained from and allegedly fixed by technicians from Magnate Technology Limited and approval was granted for the export by Jonathan Aniewu, an officer-in-charge of Free Zones.
Mr Nti said last Friday, the GRA received intelligence that a consignment of Free Zones goods, released for export to Paga the previous day, had been diverted and were being discharged at Nungua.
He said a surveillance team was despatched to the spot where the goods were being discharged and the suspects were arrested and handed over to the Marine Police.
During the arrest, he said, officials of the GRA detected that the seal on the consignment had been opened, saying that, “investigation is yet to discover who provided the key to the principal suspect, Agbah of Comet.”
The truck and its contents, he added, had been detained pending re-examination and proper re-assessment, while the Free Zone operator was yet to report.
Abuse of regime
Mr Nti, who explained that duty free shops did not pay taxes on their imports, said, “it has always been our suspicion that the regime was being abused.”
“It is for this reason that the GRA had issued an advert stating that effective December 1, 2018 duty free shops will pay customs duty and taxes at the time of importation and apply for refund’’, he indicated.