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General News of Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Source: The Al-Hajj.com

'Persecution' of Ibrahim Mahama – GRA denies wrongdoing

What was supposed to be an inquisition by the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) into alleged dud cheques issued by two of Mr Ibrahim Mahama’s companies to the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has now turned into persecution and witch-hunt.

The supposed dud cheques were allegedly issued by MBG Ltd and Holman Brothers, both subsidiaries of Engineers and Planners owned by Mr Mahama, to the Customs Division of GRA at the Tema Port to clear some heavy duty equipment. Both MBG Ltd and Holman Brothers are dealers in heavy duty equipment and sole agents of ‘Man Diesel’ vehicles in West Africa.

However, Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram, Samuel Nartey George has been accusing the anti-graft state agency of turning the investigation into “evidence-shopping-expedition” in order to implicate Mr Ibrahim Mahama at all cost.

“You can clearly tell that EOCO is on a fishing expedition. They are trying to find out a lot that they don’t know about. ..That is strange because as an investigative body, you would have expected that they have their facts and on the basis of their findings they will then be asking questions, but that is not what we are seeing. Very amorphous questions are being asked. The invitation was to answer questions with regard to issues of the GRA but today [Friday], he had questions about Merchant Bank and all kinds of so you really don’t know what EOCO is about,” Hon. George told Citifm.

Since the NDC, and his brother, President John Mahama lost last December election, leading members of the New Patriotic Party have been baying for Mr Ibrahim Mahama’s blood; with the NPP MP for Assin Central, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, in particularly, threatening to drink poison if the Chief Executive of Engineers and Planners is not jailed.

Last month, The aL-hAJJ published a letter revealing how the Akufo-Addo government had caused the state intelligence agency, (EOCO), to conduct forensic investigations into business activities of some persons with links to the former first family, especially Mr Ibrahim Mahama and his company, E&P. (See page… for the letter)

Hon Kennedy Agyapong, the self-acclaimed NPP financier, only recently alleged on Adom Tv, Badwam, that, the former President’s junior brother had defrauded the state to the tune of GH¢14 million, through issuance of dud cheques.

The law maker disclosed that EOCO would soon invite Mr Ibrahim Mahama for questioning based on which evidence will be assembled for his eventual prosecution and incarceration. He yelled “I’ll commit suicide if Ibrahim Mahama is not jailed…I’ll take in poison and kill myself if Ibrahim Mahama is not jailed, he should watch and hear me well, I will take in poison and die if Ibrahim is not jailed,” he vowed.

And true to Mr Agyapong’s threat, Mr Ibrahim Mahama, was last week invited by EOCO through telephone call to assist the state intelligence agency investigate alleged dud cheques his companies issued to GRA.

According to reports MBG Ltd owed 13.15 million cedis in duties while Holman Brothers, as of December 2015, owed an amount of 3.71 million cedis. When Mr Ibrahim honored the invitation last Tuesday, he was held at EOCO for well over four hours answering questions relating to his tax payment arrangements with the Customs Division of the GRA in respect of equipment his firms imported for the execution of 300 million cedis Tamale-Salaga road project.

The Tamale-Salaga project was the second major construction project undertaken by Mr. Ibrahim’s companies under the NDC government. The other project was the construction of a $6million field to house the Ameri power plant procured by the Mahama government under a BOOT agreement to halt dumsor.

Meanwhile, the government, through the Ministry of Roads and Highways according to Hon Sam George, still owes Mr Ibrahim Mahama GH¢24 million for work done on the Tamale-Salaga road project.

Investigations by this paper indicate that when E&P won the Tamale-Salaga contract, the company through its subsidiaries imported some construction equipment worth about GHC40m for the execution of the project. The company’s request for tax exemption on the equipment as is done for expatriate firms executing similar projects was however, turned down.

The aL-hAJJ has been told that, duties and taxes imposed on the equipment was pegged at GHC16 million. While Ibrahim was said to have paid part; he, on behalf of his companies entered into an arrangement with GRA to spread the remainder of the GHC16 million over a twelve month period to be redeemed from payment certificates from the Ministry of Finance.

Per the agreement and in line with GRA’s practice, it was agreed between the parties that Mr Ibrahim Mahama will pay the deferred taxes with interest. The parties also agreed that banker’s drafts are paid to GRA in exchange for postdated cheques deposited by E&P which only serves as guarantee.

But with the change of government following NPP’s victory in last December 7 elections, the Transition team ordered the Ministry of Finance to suspend all payments of government contracts until after the presentation of the budget for the 2017 fiscal year.

Based on this new development, payment certificates of Ibrahim’s company, E&P,of about GHC20 million remained unpaid resulting in his indebtedness of about GHC12 million to GRA. Under the terms of renewed arrangement, the Mr. Ibrahim has eight months to complete payment of the taxes and duties imposed on the equipment.

By the GRA’s payment schedule with him, the amount outstanding by April ending this year is about GHC2 million.

Though it was made clear to GRA that, government was indebted to E&P and that the company’s postdated cheques would not clear if presented to the bank, some mischievous officials at GRA on the orders of certain unseen hands in the new government; presented the cheques to the banks in order to have them returned and declared as dud.

This unfortunately, has now become a subject of inquisition by EOCO, widely believed to be on the behest of Kennedy Agyapong. The CEO of E&P, Mr Ibrahim Mahama before his “release” from EOCO was asked to deposit his passport to which his lawyer objected to.

According to the MP for Ningo-Prampram constituency, Hon. Sam George, the former president’s brother was not a flight risk but Mr Ibrahim’s lawyer, Tony Lithur, reminded the EOCO officials of recent High Court ruling that frowns on seizure of passports without court order. Subsequent to that, EOCO obtained a photocopy of the E&P CEO’s passport.

The E&P Chief Executive has also been asked by EOCO to supply them documents of all contracts his companies executed for government of Ghana since 2009 until the defeat of his senior brother, President John Dramani Mahama and the NDC in last December polls. Insiders say, “With the allegations of dud cheques appearing to be falling into the cold, EOCO is fervently “fishing” for incriminating evidence in order to nail Mr. Ibrahim.

Without recourse to the arrangements his companies had with the GRA, EOCO has instructed Mr Ibrahim Mahama to pay the full sum of 12.7 million to the state spy agency by May 8 this year.

Not only has EOCO instructed Mr Ibrahim Mahama to furnish it with documents of all contracts his company has executed for government of Ghana since 2009, the investigative agency shockingly, also, inquired from Mr Ibrahim Mahama whether he has paid all monies he owed Merchant Bank, now Universal Merchant Bank.