Labianca Scandal…

Date

*Group  fights Special Prosecutor 

*Describes   corruption allegation findings as flawed

Story: Kwadwo  Owusu ADUOMI

The Customs Staff Association (CSA) has described as flawed the investigation conducted by the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) of alleged corrupt activities involving Labianca Group of Companies and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

In a statement copied to the media, the Association indicated that the report was  misconceived and “and same is borne out of the misconception.”

According to the CSA, the Benchmark Values used by the OSP as a method of valuation rather than a risk management tool were inconsistent with the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Rules on Customs Valuation and Section 67 of the Customs Act.

On the back of this, the group was confident that the findings of the OSP in the Labianca case was technically flawed.
“There’s therefore nothing wrong with the approvals made by the Commissioner since such approvals accord with the Customs Laws and established procedures in force,”  the statement said.

Earlier this week, the OSP published an investigative report which revealed that Labianca Group of Companies, a frozen foods company owned by a member of the Council of State, Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh had a shortfall in import duties in excess of ¢1.074 million.

The OSP contended that Ms Asomah-Hinneh used her position as a member of the Council of State and member of the Board of Directors of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to get a favourable decision from the Customs Division.

The report signed by the Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng, alleged that Ms Asomah-Hinneh’s influence-peddling led to a reduction in the tax liabilities for her frozen foods company, thus, gaining undue market advantage in the competitive frozen foods industry.

But the Customs Division had refuted the Special Prosecutor’s claim against some of its officials in the case of Labianca Company.
The Commissioner of Customs, Col. Kwadwo Damoah (Rtd) who was indicted in the report accused the OSP of malicious intent with the aim to discredit the Customs officers.

Meanwhile the Programmes Manager of Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) says  her outfit is not surprised about the Special Prosecutor’s claim of alleged corrupt activities involving Labianca Group of Companies and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

According to Mary Awelana Addah, “we are all in this country and we know what is happening, so is not surprising that the OSP comes out with those findings.”

Defending the OSP on JoyNews’ Newsfile at the weekend which was monitored by Today, Madam Addah said the investigation was wholesome and a step in the right direction.

According to the anti-graft campaigner, the OSP findings were in the interest of the nation.
“I am very sure, that the OSP who is a lawyer and working with a team of lawyers who understand the law will not just come out peddling falsehoods and making certain allegations which cannot the rigorous of the law.
“Let’s give him credence because he understands what he is doing,” she noted.
She, therefore, commended the Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyabeng for “taking this bold step” adding that “whoever who does not agree knows where to go.”

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