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General News of Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Source: Today

Castle fraud - INTERPOL impounded cars missing

Today has uncovered a vehicle-stealing syndicate currently operating at the Castle, the seat of the Ghana government. The cars, this paper established, were impounded at the Tema Port by the Ghana section of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).

INTERPOL officials went on a virtual goose chase at the Castle recently when they embarked on a routine search for about six cars that INTERPOL officials say were in the possession of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Alex Segbefia. The cars, believed to be stolen from overseas countries by some Ghanaians, were impounded by INTERPOL last year.

Mr. Segbefia, the paper's finding established, could not tell the police officers exactly where the impounded cars had been sent to compelling the INTERPOL Ghana to give up the chase. When contacted on the subject, this is what Mr. Segbefia had to tell this paper in a text message response: "All impounded vehicles from the port are under the jurisdiction of national security. Please contact them for a response. Thank you Alex."

As directed by the deputy chief staff, this reporter who is also our deputy news editor, sent a text message to Mr Korsivi Degbor, a deputy to the National Security Coordinator, col. (Rtd) Gbevlo Lartey, to react to the story but was never forthcoming.

The INTERPOL officials had apparently gone to the Castle to take the cars back to its origin, the United States of America (USA), but shockingly could not trace the cars. Checks conducted by this paper revealed that the six posh cars included Toyota Highlander-2008-model; Range Rover vogue-2009 and 2008 models, Mercedes Benz E-350-2008 model and two Jaguar XF 2009 models.

Further investigations by the paper revealed that the six cars were among 44 other cars which were imported into Ghana by Kudi Cargo Incorporated from Jamaica in July 2009.

Sources close to the Custom Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) at the Tema Port hinted this paper that Baj Freights Limited and Salpholda ventures based in Tema were the companies that facilitated the clearance of the cars.

Today gathered that the two companies paid an amount of GH¢77,742,70.00 as duty fees in order to clear the goods until officials detected that the cars were stolen from the USA. Some top anonymous CEPS officials who spoke to Today recalled that when the cars were impounded, a group of people from the Castle brought some documents to the port that the stolen cars were on transit to Togo and claimed that it originally belonged to the Guinea Embassy Consulate in Togo.

"They indicated that the cars were imported in the name of one Madame Cherif Marian Diop, a Senior Staff at the Guinea embassy Consulate in Togo, and had to be taken to Togo. The cars were not even examined before they were given to the group led by some top officials at the Castle from the deputy chief of staff's office to be taken to Togo as they claimed," a source at CEPS told Today.

However, when Today inquired from the Guinean Embassy in Ghana to find out if the stolen cars indeed belonged to the Guinean Embassy Consulate in Togo, the Secretary to the Guinean Ambassador to Ghana, Mrs Martin Bogue, exposed the Castle syndicate.

She told Today that they had an embassy in Togo but all the administrative work is done at the Ghana office of the Guinean Embassy so there I no way cars would be sent to Togo for administrative purposes.

"The name Madame Cherif Marian Diop does not exist here at our embassies in the sub-region. We have records and names of all staff who work at our various offices across Africa and those cars do not belong to the Guinea embassy as those people claim," disclosed Mrs. Bogue.