SOU Orders 3 Firms To Pay GH¢63.3 Million Evaded Tax

Three companies, found to have evaded tax to the tune of GH¢63.3million, have been directed by the Presidential Special Operations Unit (SOU), to refund the amount

The companies (names withheld for security reasons), believed to be part of a tax evasion syndicate dealing in re-exportation of imported products, have up to the end of this month to refund the money to the State

Investigations by the SOU revealed that the amount covers taxes evaded by the three companies between 2009 and 2010.

They were among a number of companies found diverted imported goods meant for re-exportation to neighbouring countries, onto the Ghanaian market without paying the requisite import duties.

As their mode of operation, the defaulting companies, which are also licensed re-export firms, import goods meant for re-export to neighbouring countries but end up diverting some of their goods onto the local market through false declaration of the re-export goods.

Dr. Clement Apaak, Spokesman for the Special Operations Unit, set up by the President in 2012 to check fraud in the import and export duty payment system, said investigations were underway to ascertain how much tax was evaded by the three companies after 2010.

He told The Ghanaian Times yesterday that other licensed re-export companies and bonded warehouse operators were also being investigated for similar offences.

He explained that in-depth investigations over the past few months into the fraudulent re-exportation of goods in the Customs Management Ghana System showed that since 2009 some bonded warehouse operators had been engaged in fraudulent declarations that allowed them to evade payment of duties.

Re-exportation is the process by which goods are ex-ported normally to neighbouring countries, after the goods have been imported into Ghana.

Under the bonded warehouse regime, companies are required to make declarations in the Ghana Customs Management System using the re-exportation code (37), which enjoins companies engaged in re-exportation to list the vehicles used in the transaction and re-export of goods.

During the investigations, he said the companies were found to have been making false declarations by over-loading vehicles with weight through which vehicles, after leaving the bonded warehouses, offload some of the goods at discrete places for the local market before transporting the rest out of the country.

According to Dr. Apaak, the indicators used in their investigations included “the date on which re-exportation declaration was made, description of items leaving the warehouse, Registration numbers of vehicles to covey the goods; maximum weight limit for each vehicle as defined by the DVLA and/or Ghana Highways Authority. “Other are total weight of goods cleared in the system; total weight of goods carried by the vehicles listed in the declaration, difference between what was cleared and what was actually carried by the vehicles, the CIF value of the goods cleared in the system, the ratio of CIF of goods which could not have been re-exported and the estimated duty lost due to the diversion onto the local market.”

He explained that the extra weight recorded in each transaction represented the consignment which could not have been re-exported.

“Since the consignment has been ‘written off’ in the system, the conclusion is that the overloading was deliberate and meant to evade payment of duty on the extra goods which were dumped onto the local market,” he said.

Dr. Apaak said the unit was in the process of forwarding the cases to the Criminal Investigations Department for further investigations and prosecution of the defaulting companies who would fail to pay the evaded tax plus interest by the end of August 2014.

“The defaulting companies must pay the GH¢63,217,172 owed the State by the end of August 2014,” he stressed.

By Edmund Mingle

 

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