Ghana's Trading Hub News

Clearing agency in trouble for attempting to clear container using diplomatic cover

The British High Commission is collaborating with the security agencies, including the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), to investigate circumstances under which a custom house clearing company attempted to clear a container cargo at the Tema Port under a diplomatic cover.

The company tried using the diplomatic tax exemption facility in order to avoid the payment of import duties.

The company, Supermikes Company Limited, is alleged to have consigned a 40-footer cargo container imported into the country on June 25, 2016 to the British High Commission in Accra.

The contents of the container were declared by the clearing company as hand tools and personal effects.

By using the diplomatic tax exemption facility, the company attempted  to avoid the payment of GH¢49,085.49 in import duties.

The British High Commissioner, Mr Jon Benjamin, said the commission was working with the Ghanaian security agencies to expose the faces behind the scam

Checks by the Daily Graphic at the Tema Port revealed that goods meant for the diplomatic community attract no import  duties, except for freight charges of GH¢5.

In the same vein, the classification of most diplomatic missions within the low risk category implies that cargoes consigned to them are usually allowed to exit the port without being subjected to the cargo container scanning or physical examination processes.

Supermikes Limited and another entity, Oslo Shipping Company, are believed to have cleared 32 containers from January to June 2016 using the diplomatic concession facility.

Officials of Supermikes, however, denied knowledge of the latest scam when queried by officials of the Customs Division.

A columnist of the Daily Graphic, Ms Elizabeth Ohene, hinted of the apparent fake diplomatic cover to clear some goods at the Tema Port in her opinion piece published in the newspaper’s edition of  Wednesday, 15, 2016.

Reports suggest that custom house clearing agents and freight forwarding agencies which often clear such cargo, with the help of the protocol departments of the diplomatic missions, have thus developed avenues to dupe the state, using the diplomatic tax free facilities to clear individual cargo for which they should have paid import duties.

Investigations

Investigations carried out by the Daily Graphic revealed that imports with the diplomatic labelled containers could only be called for scan and physical examination where there were suspicions that they had consignments that could be different from what had been stated on the customs declaration forms.

According to sources, a second 40-footer container, numbered MSCU 6258856, also came to the port through the same shipping line and consigned to the British High Commissioner by Universal Shipping Limited.

In a similar move, the contents were declared as household goods and personal effects, but checks revealed that the goods included the prohibited CFC used refrigerators and a Mercedes Benz vehicle that had been severed into two to make it look like vehicle body parts.

Source:http://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/clearing-agency-in-trouble-for-attempting-to-clear-container-using-diplomatic-cover.html

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