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General News of Saturday, 23 February 2008

Source: Daily Graphic

Aggudey, VAT agree on payment plan

Valued Added Tax (VAT) officials have explained that the keys to the 20 vehicles belonging to Gocrest Security Company were released to the company following an agreement between the two parties over the settlement of the outstanding tax.

According to VAT officials, the owner of Gocrest Security, Mr George Aggudey, had paid part of the GH¢615,990.85 the company owed and rescheduled the payment of the outstanding amount over a period of one year.

VAT officials and police personnel impounded the keys at the Weija residence of Mr Aggudey during a dawn operation last Wednesday, following the company's persistent refusal to pay the GH¢615,990.85 owed the country over the past four years.

In an interview with Mr Gabriel Kontor Adampah, Head of the Adabraka VAT office, in Accra on Thursday February 21, 2008, he said the release of the keys to the vehicles to Mr Aggudey was a result of an upfront payment made to VAT and a reschedule of the outstanding amount spread over a period of one year.

He stated that the arrangement was done with the full consent of the VAT Commissioner, explaining that under the terms of the agreement, Mr Aggudey was expected to pay his current liabilities while he also made monthly payments of the outstanding amount spread over a period of one year.

Mr Adampah stated that the VAT officials had started its distress action to retrieve funds owned the state early this year because of the upcoming general election in December this year adding that a similar exercise conducted in 2004 was perceived to be political hunting.

He said the service would "continue with the "distress action to ensure that companies which failed to adhere to all customer-friendly notices complied to rules and laws of the country with regards to VAT payments.

Last Wednesday, 20 vehicles belonging to Gocrest Security were impounded by officials of the Value Added Tax (VAT) and some police personnel, for the company's persistent refusal to pay GH¢615,990,85 or (¢6.15 billion) owed the state over the past four years.

In the dawn operation, the keys to the vehicles, including four bullion Man Diesel trucks, 15 bullion Toyota Hilux vehicles and one Nissan Urvan, were taken away from the residence of Mr George Aggudey, the owner of the company.

The exercise did not affect 25 other posh private cars which were parked in the mansion of Mr Aggudey, a former Convention People's Party (CPP) Presidential candidate.

The cars included an Escalade, three Lincoln saloon cars, two Porsche sports cars, a Mercedes Benz E Class, two convertible cars, a Jaguar, a Land Cruiser, three BMW's, and a Toyota Hilux.

Mr Aggudey, who was awoken from his sleep as early as 5:30 a.m. by his security guard to attend to the VAT officials, looked sober and tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with the VAT officials who would not listen to any explanation.

According to Mr Henry Sam, the leader of the task force, Mr Aggudey had refused all friendly customer appeals to him to pay the outstanding amount.

He indicated that the distress action was to ensure that defaulters paid back taxes that were due the state and explained that the exercise was undertaken at the early hours of the day because of the nature of business of the company.

He indicated that some cheques amounting to GH¢240,OOO issued by the company sometime last year were dishonoured and that by the laws of VAT, they would only receive cash payments or by banker's draft.

Mr Aggudey indicated that he had visited the VAT Commissioner this week and had made arrangements to make payments for which he had submitted cheques to pay the outstanding amount.

He looked visibly disturbed, did not argue further and started making calls to unknown personalities.