Clearing Agent Charged for GH¢16.4m Tax Evasion
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The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has charged a freight forwarder whose company allegedly suppressed customs duties to the tune of GH¢16,396,908.10 between 2014 and 2019 to stand trial at the Criminal Division of the High Court in Accra.
Francis Yaw Terrison, 44, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Gatyfax Logistics Limited, a clearing company located at the Kotoka International Airport, is facing three counts of falsification, alteration and forgery of official documents; fraudulent evasion of customs duties and charges, and money laundering.
The facts of the case accompanying the charge sheet prepared by the investigator, Detective Inspector Benson Gyamfi, indicated that in recent times, the GRA had not been able to meet its annual projected targets, a situation which had become worrying to the authority.
In the light of this, the Intelligence Unit of the authority decided to conduct thorough audit into transactions of some key freight forwarders whose tax returns looked suspicious.
Subsequently, the unit zoomed on the accused persons company, Gatyfax Logistics Limited, and discovered that the accused persons company had from 2014 to 2019 suppressed customs excise duties to the tune of GH¢16,369,908.10 for products his company cleared from Max International, a pharmaceutical company based in the United States of America, the charge sheet said.
The facts further indicated that a report to that effect was made to the investigation unit of the GRA for further investigations, and as part of the investigations, the unit on January 21, 2020 wrote to both Max International Company, the importer, and Gatyfax Logistics Limited, the clearing agency, and obtained import documents from 2017 to 2019.
When the documents were scrutinised, it was detected that the accused persons company over the period under-declared to Customs the required duty amount payable to the State, thereby paying a reduced or drastic lesser amount.
On the contrary, the accused, after paying a lesser amount, then scanned the paid duty documents that he had generated from Customs and inserted the right duty figures which were supposed to have been paid to the State to make it reflect as the amount paid, and used the forged receipt and documents to bill the importer, Max International, and unduly benefited from the suppressed amount differences, the facts stated.
Furthermore, preliminary investigations unearthed that for the period spanning 2014 to 2019, audited import documents showed that the State had been denied a total sum of GH¢16,369,908.10.
On January 31, 2020, the accused was arrested for investigations. During interrogation and his caution statement, the accused admitted the offence and narrated how he manipulated the system.
He also indicated that he used the proceeds realised from the deal to buy six plots of land at different locations at Oyarifa and Ayi-Mensah, both suburbs of Accra. That he used some of the monies to put up three separate storey buildings on three of the plots, whilst the other three plots are undeveloped, the facts indicated.
According to the facts, on February 3, 2020, the accused person led the police to Oyarifa and Ayi-Mensah to identify and inspect the three storey buildings that he confessed to have acquired with the booty.
He also surrendered the land documents covering the properties.
After investigations, the accused was charged and arraigned.