The Commissioner of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Colonel Kwadwo Damoah (rtd) has been removed from office.
He has been asked to hand over his duties and office to the Acting Deputy Commissioner, Preventive Service, Seidu Iddrisu Iddisah as acting Commissioner.
A letter from the presidency signed by Nana Bediatuo Asante, Secretary to the President and sighted by DGN Online states that “Following the expiration of your contract as Commissioner (Customs Division) of the Ghana Revenue Authority on 13th October 2021, the President of the Republic of Ghana has directed that effective Friday, 26th August 2022, you handover all duties and office to the Acting Deputy Commissioner (Preventive Service) Mr. Seidu Iddrisu Iddisah who will act as the Commissioner (Customs Division), pending the President substantive appointment”.
The Customs Division of the GRA has been implicated in two cases being investigated by the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP).
One of the cases involves Labianca Company Limited, from whom the OSP has already recovered GH₵1,074, 627.15 in unpaid import duties.
On August 22, 2022, the OSP mentioned it had commenced investigations into the auction sale of vehicles and other goods by the GRA from July 1, 2016 to August 15, 2022
According to a statement from the OSP, the Commissioner of the Customs Division of the GRA was expected to produce some important documentation to aid the probe on or before September 30, 2022.
Responding to the allegations, Col Damoah has said he is fully cooperating with the Office of the Special Prosecutor in investigations into some aspects of the operations of the division.
“I have been cooperating fully with the OSP. I responded to an OSP invitation on February 16 this year in connection with the Labianca issue. Currently, the office has asked us to produce all documents related to the granting of discounts by September 30.
“Additionally, the OSP has directed that we produce documents on auctions by the same September 30. We are gathering all the documents in order to meet the deadline given,” he said.
He believes that everything he had done as the head of the Customs Division was lawful and reasonable within the circumstances.
“The Special Prosecutor has the right to investigate, but I am confident that at the end of the day, the truth will stand and my integrity will remain intact. I have not contravened any laws of the land and, therefore, I have nothing to fear,” he said.
He continued that “The investigations have not had any negative impact on my work because I have nothing to hide. Let me say that these investigations will not stop me from continuing to do what is within the ambit of the law.
“I have told my officers that we have to exceed our revenue target by 25 per cent and we are working towards that, and I won’t be intimidated,” he said.
He provided figures to support how seriously the division was working to exceed its revenue target of GH¢25.6 billion.
As of August 20, actual revenue collected was GH¢12.49 billion, and Col Damoah said based on the projections, there was every indication that the target would be exceeded.
Touching on the auctioning of vehicles, he explained that the investigations were premised on a petition submitted to the OSP by some individuals whose vehicles were auctioned after they had failed to meet the statutory deadline to pay the required duties.
“These individuals petitioned the OSP that they imported some vehicles which they were unable to clear; that the vehicles were confiscated to the state and auctioned at values far below what they were to pay as customs duties,” he said.
“I don’t take delight in auctioning. The fact is that the laws are clear on the confiscation of goods; that is, if you are unable to clear after six months, and in some cases one year, the goods are confiscated to the state and auctioned,” he added.
Col Damoah said currently there were about 500 vehicles due for auctioning, but given the OSP’s directive, any planned auctioning had been put on hold until the investigations were completed.