The President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association, GUTA, Dr. Joseph Obeng has described as evil and cruel the auction sales of vehicles and other goods by the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority.
The Office of the Special Prosecutor has commenced investigation into suspected corruption and corruption-related offences in respect of auction sales of vehicles and other goods by the Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority between July 1, 2017 and August 15, 2022.
A statement dated August 22, 2022 and issued by the Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng said on August 19, 2022, the Commissioner of the Customs Division was directed to produce some pertinent documentation to aid the probe on or before September 30, 2022.
The office wants the particulars and clear description of all auctioned items, the quantity of all auctioned items, the prices at which the items were auctioned, the date of each auction sale, and the full names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the successful bidders at all the auction sales.
The Special Prosecutor has “further directed the Commissioner of the Customs Division to immediately halt and discontinue all auction sales till the investigation is concluded.
The Customs Division has always come under criticism over the manner and circumstances under which goods are auctioned.
Sections 53(1)(3) and 59(1) of Customs Act 2015 (Act 891) and Part 9(B)(Para A) of The Customs Departmental Instructions, authorizes the forfeiture of goods and vehicles imported into the country and not entered and cleared within 21 days and 60 days after final discharge.
Dr. Obeng speaking in an interview on Radio Ghana on Monday evening said despite the existence of the standard operating procedure, often times importers encounter customs officers and procedures which seek to perpetuate underhand dealings.
He suggested that there seems to be a syndicate that has mastered the art of fishing out high-value goods among the goods, and right at the end of the 14-day grace period for clearance, they are able to gain access to such uncleared cargoes.
The GUTA President who sounded teary on air, added there were even instances, where the importers managed to pay for the duty at the last minute and were in the process to find funds to pay for the accrued rent, but before they realized, the containers were gone. He repeated several times that the practice is evil. He welcomed the Special Prosecutor’s probe into the matter.