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General News of Thursday, 23 May 2019

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Amidu charges Ayariga for fraudulently evading tax on imported vehicles

The Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga, has been charged for using public office for private benefit.

He faces four counts of fraudulent evasion of customs duties and taxes, using public office for private benefit, dealing in foreign exchange without licence and transfer of foreign exchange from Ghana through an unauthorised dealer.

Second accused person, Kendrick Akwasi Marfo, a car dealer, faces one count of fraudulent evasion of customs duties and taxes.

The leaked charge sheet was signed by the Special Prosecutor, Mr Martin Amidu, on March 22, 2019.

It was filed at the High Court’s registry on March 27, 2019 but it is not clear why the accused persons have still not been arraigned.

The Office of the Special Prosecutor declined to comment on the leaked document when graphic online’s Mabel Aku Baneseh called to find out why the accused persons have not been arraigned considering the time the charge sheet was filed.

The facts accompanying the charge sheet indicated thatParliament at its last sitting on April 7, 2017, by a resolution approved a loan agreement for the purchase of MPs official vehicles between the House and Societe-General, Ghana.

Each MP was entitled to $80,000 loan payable within a period of four years for the purchase of their official vehicle.

It said MPs were only entitled to access the loan through a supplier and that no MP was entitled to personally collect the loan due for the stated purpose for which the loan was secured or otherwise.

According to the Special Prosecutor, Ayariga allegedly connived with a Sheriff Ahmed Tijani Abdulai, who had registered a company called ASH Plantpool Limited with the sole aim of representing the company as the MP’s supplier.

Ayariga allegedly requested that his share of the loan be transferred to ASH Plantpool’s account to which the Clerk of Parliament approved resulting in Societe-General transferring $80,000 into ASH Plantpool’s account.

Abdulai allegedly transferred $78,000 to Ayariga’s personal account and kept $2,000 as his commission contrary to the loan agreement.

Importation

The facts said Ayariga then used the money to import three second hand Toyota V8 Land Cruisers from Dubai and later applied for tax exemptions.

He was granted tax exemptions on condition that he pays duties and taxes to the tune of GH¢36,591.15 upfront before the vehicles are cleared from the port since the duties and taxes on the vehicles exceeded his allowable exemption.

Rather, Ayariga was alleged to have paid an amount of GH¢6,062.86 instead of GH¢36,591.15 to clear the vehicles at the port.

The facts further indicated that Ayariga sold the three vehicles for a total sum of $120,000 to Marfo instead of using them for his official duties.

Investigations also revealed that Ayariga transferred $90,000 to Dubai for the purchase of the vehicle through an agent of his supplier who had no licence to deal in foreign exchange transaction.

According to the Special Prosecutor, Marfo knew the vehicles were exempted from customs duties and taxes but he failed to pay those exemptions before purchasing the vehicles while Ayariga also failed to pay those exemptions before the sale.

The facts were signed by the investigator in charge of the case, Mr Rockson Gyimah of the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO).

The case was filed in court on March March 27, 2019.