SP petitioned to investigate La Bianca Company

A Ghanaian citizen, Frank Asare, has petitioned the Special Prosecutor (SP), Mr Kisi Agyabeng, to investigate La Bianca Company, a registered Ghanaian business that imports frozen foods, for alleged evasion of import duties at the Tema Port for the period 2017-2021.

According to the petitioner, if the Office of the SP does not intervene, the La Bianca Company and the Custom Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority would continue to perpetuate the alleged illegality leading to more revenue losses to the state and the collapse of the local poultry industry and the businesses of their competitors in the imported frozen food industry.

In the petition, copied the Ghanaian Times on Tuesday, Mr Asare alleged that his investigation has uncovered that the products imported by La Bianca company and its subsidiaries were not subjected to the approved duties and taxes as prescribed by law.

 He alleged that beneficial owner of La Bianca Company is one Eunice Hinneh, who is a member of the governing Board of Ghana Port and Harbor Authority and a member of the Council of State. 

The petitioner said he had observed that La Bianca Company Limited was into the importation of frozen foods into the country for sale.

Mr Asare noted that the imported products were supposed to ordinarily be subjected to import duties/levies, fees, taxes and statutory deductions as prescribed by the Law. 

The petitioner stated that company purportedly applied to the Commissioner, Custom Division, on October, 21, 2021 for consideration on custom import values for certain products it had imported into the country. 

Mr Asare said the Deputy Commissioner, Operations, Custom Division, by a letter dated  October 26, 2021,  purportedly granted a 10 per cent mark down of the approved benchmark values for imported frozen foods from October 26,  2021 to December 31, 2021.

The petitioner alleged that the Deputy Commissioner, Operations, Custom Division, cited section 12 of the Customs Act, 2015 (Act 891) as the basis for the discount of the 10 per cent  markdown he granted the company. 

Mr Asare contended  that Section 12 of the Customs Act, 2015 (Act 891) deals with the subject matter of “Advance Ruling” and “does not support the grant of 10 per cent mark down given to the company by customs given the nature and content of the application in issue.” 

He stated  that “Advance Ruling” as provided under by Section 12 of the Custom Act, 2015 (Act 891) is a pre-shipment application to determine how Custom deals with intended import as it relates to classification, valuation or determination of origin.

The petitioner stated that “advance ruling” was only made on the basis of a specific transaction or intended import bill. 

Mr Asare said that per sub section 6 and 7 of section 12 of the Customs Act, 2015, the grant of a 10 per cent markdown must comply with the following;  (a) a complete description of the merchandise including the packing weight,  the chemical analysis, the description of the goods, the production and expiration date, the name and brand of the goods,  the physical description,  function of the goods,  composition of the goods, and  characteristics of components. 

BY MALIK SULLEMANA

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