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General News of Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Akufo-Addo must ‘push’ Council of State member in GH¢1m tax exposé to resign – Vitus Azeem

Embattled Council of State member, Mrs. Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh

Anti-corruption campaigner, Vitus Azeem, has called on businesswoman and Council of State member, Mrs. Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh, to resign from her position.

According to him, if President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was really committed to the anti-corruption fight, steps should be taken to ensure that Mrs. Asomah-Hinneh leaves her position following recent corruption-related offences involving her and her company.

“This Council of State member should have resigned by now. If the leadership, the President and his executive are determined to fight corruption, that should be the case,” Azeem told Accra-based Citi News.

He holds further that the President must conduct further investigations into the corruption report issued by the Office of the Special Prosecutor.

Titled: “Report of Investigation into Alleged Commission of Corruption and Corruption-Related Offences involving Labianca Group of Companies and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority,” it implicated the Council of State member as using her position to get favourable tax exemption decisions.

“The Special Prosecutor, like the former one, is probably struggling to do his best, but I am not sure if he will be given the necessary cooperation and the necessary support [he will succeed],” Azeem added.

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Background

An amount of GH¢1.074 million was retrieved by the Office of the Special Prosecutor from the Labianca Company Limited, a frozen foods company, belonging to the member of the Council of State.

The amount represented a deficit in import duties paid to the state.

According to the investigative report, Ms. Asomah-Hinneh used her position as a member of the Council of State and a member of the Board of Directors of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to influence a favourable decision from the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), leading to a reduction in the tax liabilities of Labianca Limited.

A Deputy Commissioner of Customs in charge of Operations, Joseph Adu Kyei, was cited by the OSP for issuing what it described as an unlawful customs advance ruling.

This, according to the report, reduced the benchmark values of the goods imported by Labianca Limited, translating to reduced tax obligations of the company to the state.

“The OSP finds that there is strong evidence to suggest that Mr Kyei’s decision to issue a customs advance ruling for the applicant was procured through influence peddling or trading of influence by Ms Asomah-Hinneh by employing her position as a member of the Council of State and member of the Board of Directors of the GPHA," the report signed by the Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng, stated.

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