Labianca Company Limited has denied that the company and its Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh, procured customs advance ruling through influence-peddling as claimed by the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP).
The management of the company said in a statement issued on Wednesday, 24 August 2022, that it was saddened by the publication of the report and the conversations surrounding it in the media.
It said the report’s findings were “at variance with our recollection of events and submissions made to the office”.
While the OSP has not written to them officially, the company said their lawyers would seek redress in court concerning the report’s findings.
“We take the findings of the Office of the Special Prosecutor seriously and have consequently instructed our lawyers to take the necessary action on this matter”.
According to the company, it will always comply with the laws of Ghana as it has done over the years.
“Over the years, the company has, in accordance with due process, applied for customs advance rulings under the Customs Act 2015 (Act 891). Indeed, over the years, the company has been tax compliant and has discharged all its obligations dutifully. Due to the nature of the operations of importers like us, the Ghana Revenue Authority, per Act 891, conducts periodic post clearance audits to determine possible undervaluation or overpayments of taxes,” it added.
Read the full statement below.
The Office of the Special Prosecutor(OSP) retrieved an amount of GH¢1.07 million from Labianca Company Limited, a company owned by a member of the Council of State, Ms. Eunice Jacqueline Asomah-Hinneh.
The recovery of the amount comes after the OSP launched an investigation into accusations of corruption and corruption-related offences against Labianca Company Limited and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
This is contained in a report released by the OSP dated 3 August 2022, dubbed: “Report of Investigation into Alleged Commission of Corruption and Corruption-Related Offences involving Labianca Group of Companies and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority.”
According to the report, the Office of the Special Prosecutor received a written complaint from one Frank Asare in November 2021.
“The complainant alleged ongoing corrupt, illegal, and questionable dealings between Labianca and the Customs Division resulting in unlawful markdown or reduction of benchmark values of frozen food products imported by Labianca under the guise of customs advance rulings.”
“The complainant contended that Labianca has gained undue competitive market advantage in the frozen foods industry by reason of the allegedly corrupt and other unlawful dealings,” the report stated.
After the investigations, the OSP concluded that Ms Asomah-Hinneh has capitalized on her position as a member of the Council of State and member of the Board of Directors of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to get a favourable decision from the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), and so accused her of influence-peddling.
A Deputy Commissioner of Customs in charge of Operations was also cited for issuing an “unlawful customs advance ruling”, which has reduced the company’s tax liabilities to the state.
On this basis, the Special Prosecutor issued an interim directive on 21 March 2022 to Labianca Company Limited to pay an amount of One Million Seventy-Four Thousand cedis Six Hundred and Twenty-Seven cedis Fifteen pesewas (GHC1,074,627.15), representing the short collection or shortfall of revenue arising from the issuance of the unlawful customs advance ruling by the Deputy Commissioner for Customs in charge of operations, Mr. Joseph Adu Kyei into the Asset Recovery Account of the Office of the Special Prosecutor.
Meanwhile, Labianca Company Limited complied with the directive on 31 March 2022.