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Crime & Punishment of Thursday, 6 April 2017


Customs Officer in extortion case

A customs officer on special duty operations in the Ashanti Region to check importers who have defaulted in the payment of import duties is alleged to have been engaged in extorting money from importers.

The officer, Mr Anthony Osei, also known as Tony, a driver with the customs division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), is alleged to demand sums of money ranging from GH¢10,000 to GH¢30,000 from the importers or have their goods seized if they refuse to pay.

Mr Osei’s activities were revealed when an importer, Mr Rockson Kofi Nsiah of Rockson Kofi Nsiah Company Limited at Akropong near Kumasi, had his articulated truckload of Mackerel seized because he failed to pay a GH¢20,000 bribe to Tony.

The victim, who could not stand the ordeal, reported the matter to the Ashanti Regional office of the Customs Division of the GRA.

Referral for Investigations

The Ashanti Regional Sector Commander of customs division of GRA, Assistant Commissioner Paul Kwesi Ahiakpor, confirmed the matter in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Kumasi.

He acknowledged that Tony was a driver working at the headquarters of the customs division in Accra.

He said when he received the report of extortion, he advised the victim to go ahead and lodge a formal complaint with the headquarters of the customs in Accra while his outfit set out to conduct further investigations into the matter.

Narrating the anguish he went through, Mr Nsiah said he imported an articulated truckload of 8,800 tins of Markerel but had his goods seized on the orders of Tony on the night of Friday, March 24, 2017.

He said his attempts to convince Tony that he had paid import duty and was in possession of a valid receipt of an amount of GH¢12,092 fell on deaf ears.

In the course of the misunderstanding, Mr Osei ordered his articulated truck to be seized for examination of his goods and the accompanying import duty bill. He said when he could no longer contain the situation he officially lodged a complaint at the Ashanti Regional Office of Customs.

Meanwhile, all attempts by the Daily Graphic to speak to Tony had proved futile.