The Commissioner of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Colonel (Rtd.) Kwadwo Damoah, has said a recent publication by the Office of the Special Prosecutor, in which his deputy and he are accused of aiding a company belonging to a Council of State member, Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh, who is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), to get a favourable decision from the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, leading to a reduction in her company’s tax liabilities, was empty and motivated by malice.
The Special Prosecutor has, however, recovered GHS 1 million from Labianca.
According to the report of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, Deputy Commissioner of Customs in charge of Operations, Mr Joseph Adu Kyei, issued an unlawful customs advance ruling that led to the reduction of the values of intended imports between a range of 5 and 10 per cent below the benchmark values.
The ruling was allegedly blessed by Col. Damoah without notifying the GRA Commissioner-General.
The OSP report said Col. Damoah “tacitly approved” the ruling and “acknowledged the disingenuity of the outcome by admitting that the applicants did not meet the legal requirements for the issuance of customs advance ruling.”
“Indeed, Mr. Adu Kyei’s decision would not have passed muster but for Colonel (Rtd.) Damoah’s apparent approval. The halfhearted seeming recantation is unhappily belated and does not absolve Colonel (Rtd.) Damoah of ultimate responsibility for the apparently contrived decision,” the report indicated.
Reacting to the report at a Customs Division Management Retreat in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region, however, Col. Damoah said the report is fraught with malice and hatred.
“Anybody who has read that report very well will know the basis of that; and luckily for me, God is always on my side. Before that report came, that person had made a statement to some people who had come to tell me: ‘He was going to publish something that will discredit me’. And I even sent people to go and tell him that he is a small boy, I’m older than him”.
“I have lived a meaningful life. If he attempts to destroy me, it won’t be easy for him. People have tried it, I’ve survived it and this one, too, I’ll survive”.
“All that happened, one of the reasons was because of Mr Akurugu. He [Special Prosecutor] wanted Mr Akurugu to be seconded to his office and I said, ‘No’. Mr Akurugu is a Customs primarily employed to do Customs work and he is to partner Mr Akoto Fekyen in that office [African Continental Free Trade Area]”.
“He deals with tariffs and valuations and, therefore, I cannot second him to the Office of the Special Prosecutor because he has a primary role to play at Customs, and then he comes back through the Commissioner General and again, I said I insist and we’ll go by that, that he has a primary role. It is when I don’t have a role for him or I can dispense of his services or I’ve others to do what he’s going to do that I’ll give him to you, so, I insist”, Col Damoah explained.
“And, he [Kissi Agyebeng] calls me to his office in relation to Labianca and at the end of it, he talks to me about this same matter and I said, ‘Yes, it is not the Commissioner General, I wrote it, go and check; and I have my reasons. He will not be released to you. He’ll be at Customs”.
“And, then, behind me, he [Mr Akurugu] goes to resign, he’s given the position of Commission of Police rank and he’s now in your office and he goes to make allegations that Mr Adu Kyei and I hate him and he’ll deal with us. So, that is it. That is the basis for that publication”, he noted.
“But if you read it very well, there’s nothing in it. It’s hollow and it’s actuated by malice and those who are behind it know themselves. They’ve tried it several times, it is not working, it won’t work. I’m ready for any prosecution. That is what he must do, not to say that they should do further investigations up to 2017”, he dared.
He added: “If you want to remove me, I have no qualms, I won’t be Commissioner of Customs forever, I’m ready to go but don’t disgrace me, don’t hide behind people for your own failures and incompetency and then you come and deal with me”.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is serious business: when a whole commissioner and a deputy commissioner being disgraced this way and you have the tacit support of people think they can only achieve things not by merit but by destroying others. God is watching all of us … accountability awaits all of us. We’ll have accountability on this earth and after death. So, if you are behind it, you want to destroy Kwadwo Damoah, no. I want the best for Customs Division. I want Customs officers to be happy to do their job. It is only when they are happy that they will be able to achieve the target”.