Crime & Punishment of Saturday, 28 June 2014
The Accra High Court has fined an Italian businessman GH¢24,000 for illegally exporting charcoal. In default, he will serve 18 months’ imprisonment.
Ali Deris, the Chief Executive Officer of Golden Way Merchant Limited, was convicted on his own plea and sentenced to a total fine of 2000 penalty units, which is, equivalent to GH¢24,000 or 18 months imprisonment.
Two other persons – Emmanuel Ndeogo, a freight forwarder, and Mercy Bentil, a businesswoman – suspected to be accomplices in the crime, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges and are to reappear on July 15, 2014.
The court, sitting on June 25, 2014, also directed that seven 40-foot containers of charcoal at the Tema Harbour that the Energy Commission seized from the accused persons should be sold to the public and the proceeds paid into government coffers.
Deris, Ndeogo and Mercy were arraigned on charges of attempting to illegally export seven 40-footer containers of charcoal to Europe and the Middle East.
Their charges included attempting to commit crime and exportation of charcoal without licence.
The rest are forgery of official documents; uttering forged documents, and giving bribe to influence a public officer contrary to Section 252 of the Criminal Offences Act.
Prosecuting, Superintendent Faustina Agyeiwaa Kodua Andoh-Kwofie, told the court that the accused persons were arrested on February 5, 2014 when they tried to illegally export seven 40-footer containers of charcoal to Europe and the Middle East.
She said investigations established that Ndeogo, who was once an agent for Oskan Industries Limited, a licensed charcoal exporter, photocopied and forged the licence number – EC/CEL/12-12-001 – of the said company.
She added that Ndeogo forged the expiry dates of the said licence to read “December 20, 2014” instead of “December 20, 2013”, adding that the accused also forged the exportable tonnage allowed to read “900 tonnes” instead of “500 tonnes.”
Superintendent Andoh-Kwofie said investigations further revealed that Ndeogo used the forged licence to export five 40-footer containers of charcoal belonging to Deris.
“The accused persons labelled the container as ‘shea cake’ to avoid detection by the Energy Commission,” she said.
Superintendent Andoh-Kwofie said Ndeogo presented GH¢15,000 to the arresting officers “in order to corrupt them to allow the illegal export.”
With respect to Mercy Bentil, Superintendent Andoh-Kwofie said although she was not a licensed exporter of charcoal, she engaged in illegal exportation of charcoal.