Custom Officers Caught Aiding Tax Evasion

The Herald painstaking investigations into the activities of Madam Eunice Jacqueline Buah, owner of White Stones Frozen Foods Limited, which is embroiled in the importation of some rotten chicken from Holland, have very damning materials, including tax evasion, which dates back as far as December 2011.

The materials which also include, her use of multiple companies in her frozen foods import, portray the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (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 are declared 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 paying appropriate taxes.

Coincidentally, their imported products end up in the same cold store, which had been used by Danaase Company Limited, LaBianca Company Limited and Eastern Star to stock 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 a 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 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 entitled “Tema Port fraudulent cases, five companies fingered” 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 Brasil 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 Brasil 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.