Daily Guide, Joy FM, Daily Searchlight, Crusading Guide, Others Exposed
The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), has not cleared frozen foods importer; White Stone Foods Limited with respect to tax evasion, the use of multiple companies, wrongful designation and deliberate misrepresentation of imported meat into the country.
The Herald is rather informed that GRA, Office of The President, the National Security Secretariat and the Council of State, have taken keen interest in the revelation by this paper and have initiated multiple probes into reports that Madam Eunice Jacqueline Buah, a Council of State and also a Ghana Ports and Habours Authority (GHPHA) board member, is unduly using her influence to evade tax at the Tema Port.
Interestingly, since Saturday some newspapers and news portals, including the Daily Guide, New Crusading Guide, Daily Searchlight, Joy FM’s internet site Myjoyonline, Ghanaweb and others, are busy publishing planted stories in favour of the tax evader to scuttle probe, which will demonstrate government’s commitment to paperless system at the nation’s ports.
The well choreographed stories, failed to name officials of both GRA and White Stone Foods Limited, who spoke to the media houses, denying The Herald revelations, except to say “sources”.
But agents of White Stone Foods Limited, close to The Herald, have confirmed that they paid the media houses and some journalists for the hatchet job on behalf of the importer, who uses money, political connections and influence to enrich herself by milking the state dry with the use of multiple companies, wrongful designation and deliberate misrepresentation of imported meat products.
The Herald with the help of insiders, had counted as many as five companies that are used by Madam Jacqueline to import chicken parts, sausages and others into the country, and skipping taxes under the watchful eyes of the Custom officers at the port. The companies include; Danaase Company Limited, LaBianca, Eastern Star, M&G and White Stones Frozen Foods.
Shockingly, the planted stories, only singled out White Stones Frozen Foods, as the only company owned by her, which had not evaded tax. The others were not mentioned at all, implying that indeed, they had been used to commit some illegal acts as reported.
Danaase Company Limited, LaBianca Company Limited, Eastern Star and M&G, were flagged some six years ago, by Customs authorities over tax evasion, but were quickly discarded by Madam Eunice Jacqueline Buah for White Stones Frozen Foods, whose activities is also questionable. A promised investigation by Customs, never saw the light of day.
This paper is informed that, Isaac Crentsil, the Customs Commissioner and most of his top brass, have exhibited a morbid fear in probing the matter of Madam Eunice Jacqueline Buah, removing its compromised officers and saving the nation from revenue loss, because of the embarrassment it bring to some politicians even at the Ministry of Finance.
Apart from the Office of the President, the National Security Council and the Council of State, taking keen interest in the revelation, This paper is also informed that the Commissioner-General of GRA, Emmanuel Kofi Nti is interested, especially so, when it looks certain that government might miss its revenue target from the ports, this year.
The GRA boss, is said to have visited the port, following The Herald’s exposé, went through the system and slapped a penalty on White Stones Food, after discovering some issues of misrepresentation with regards to some of its containers of chicken.
This paper, also is told that a series of meeting have been held, with many still in the coming days towards finding a lasting solution to the tax issue.
The GRA boss, wants to know the extent of the tax hemorrhage at the instance of Madam Eunice Jacqueline Buah, in spite of the preferential tax arrangement made for her with Customs Advance Ruling on Valuation per Section 12 of the Customs Law, Act 891, allowing her to pay less taxes than other importers.
The Herald last week, revealed how the Council of State member, uses multiple companies in her frozen foods import business.
A Ghana News Agency story entitled “Tema Port fraudulent cases, five companies fingered” portrayed the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) division GRA as weak and powerless when it comes to the woman nicknamed “Lady Bianca”.
The Herald with the help of insiders has counted as many as five companies that are used by her to import chicken into the country and skip taxes. They include; Danaase Company Limited, LaBianca Company Limited, Eastern Star, M&G and White Stones Frozen Foods.
As far back as six years ago, some of these companies had been used in deceiving Custom officers at the Tema Port by giving wrong origins, descriptions and destinations of her imported products in order to skip the payment of the required taxes into state coffers.
This means that her recent smuggling of a 40-footer container from the port and subsequent lie to officials of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) that it had been dispatched to Techiman in Brong Ahafo Region although it had been sneaked to her cold store in Tema, has always been her modus operandi.
The companies rendered redundant anytime their tax activities catch the eyes of the principled custom officers and red flags are raised.
For instance, Danaase Company Limited, LaBianca Company Limited and Eastern Star are no longer in use presently. M&G and White Stones Frozen Foods are in operation and being used to import meat from Weddam Food Link BV of Holland. Some of these products are also wrongfully described to skip the pay of the appropriate tax.
Coincidentally, their imported products end up in the same cold store which had been used Danaase Company Limited, LaBianca Company Limited and Eastern Star to stocked frozen meat.
Madam Eunice Jacqueline Buah’s political clout has landed her on the board of the Ghana Ports and Habours Authority (GHPHA) and is a Council of State Member representing the Western Region. She boasts of being financier of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). She is alleged to have used connections to have customs officer transferred from their posts.
On December 14, 2011, the Ghana News Agency (GNA) investigations revealed that although the officials of the Customs division of GRA were aware that Brazil does not export chicken backs, they had often defended the companies to clear their goods without any impediment denying the country of huge sums of revenue.
The GNA story is published below unedited:
Accra, Dec. 14, GNA- Five Companies believed to be part of the tax evading syndicate operating with the connivance with officials of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) at the Tema Port long room have been exposed.
Apart from declaring most of their chicken thighs and breasts as chicken backs which attract less tax, the companies are also accused of consistently deceiving the public that their goods were imported from Brazil.
Ghana News Agency (GNA) investigations revealed that although the officials of the Customs division of GRA were aware that Brazil does not export chicken backs, they had often defended the companies to clear their goods without any impediment denying the country of huge sums of revenue.
The GNA information from some secret documents named the companies as; Danaase Company Limited, Holylane Company Limited, Patnice Company Limited, LaBianca Company Limited and Awo Frozen Foods Limited.
The Directors of all the five companies have the same surname, suggesting that they are either for one person or a consortium that was trying to outsmart revenue officials at the port. Although all their documents indicated that the chicken backs were often imported from Brazil Foods, a chicken exporting company in Brazil, the company had since denied and challenged them with documents that were copied to the GNA.
GNA information from Brazil Foods indicated that the company only used their chicken backs as raw material for the production of other products, mainly for Brazilian Market and not for export.
More revelations identified the above companies (whose Directors\’ names are for now withheld) as the only Ghanaian Companies that import huge tonnage of chicken backs from the above Brazilian company, which had so far denied their claims.
In the month of October alone, the five companies according to the documents GNA stumbled upon, have consistently imported millions of cartons of chicken backs, while the other chicken parts, such as legs, wings and breasts were often in smaller quantities, an indication that there were fraudulent and hindsight dealings.
Meanwhile, other companies in the same business have never in any of the documents indicated that they imported the same products from Brazil.
A letter signed by Marcelo Siegmann, Sales Manager of Brasil Foods Africa (PTY) Limited, on December, 6, 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa and copied the GNA stated that, “We come to you through this letter to attest that we as Brasil Foods, owners of the brands sadia and perdix and longtime exporters of chicken, turkey, beef and pork as well as processed products to many countries in the world; do not produce, process or export the product chicken backs to Ghana or any other country in the world.”
It would be recalled that, GNA, a couple of weeks ago, published a story about the connivance of officials of Customs Division of GRA at the Tema Port long room that had denied government, huge sums of money.
The story indicated that there was a specific company with different names that manipulated the system to milk the state of necessary revenue.
GNA publication also stated that the CT Scanners at the Tema Port long room could not differentiate chicken parts, which the importers capitalised on to dupe the state.