Labianca Foods scandal: Petitioner commends OSP, calls for full-scale prosecution

Frank Asare has also hinted of plans to petition the president to remove the owner of Labianca Foods Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh from the Council of State

The petitioner in the Labianca Foods scandal, Frank Asare has commended the Special Prosecutor for retrieving over GHC1 million from Labianca Foods belonging to Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh, in unpaid import duties.

The amount represents a shortfall in import duties the frozen foods company paid to the state.

In a 12-paged report, the OSP accused Asomah-Hinneh of influence-peddling for allegedly using 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), which led to a reduction in the tax liabilities of Labianca Foods Limited.

The report also indicted a deputy commissioner of Customs in charge of Operations, Joseph Adu Kyei, for issuing what it described as unlawful customs advance ruling which reduced the benchmark values of the frozen foods imported by Labianca Limited, thereby reducing the company’s tax obligations to the state.

But in a statement issued on Wednesday (10 August), Asare called for a full scale criminal prosecution adding that he will petition the president to remove Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh from the Council of State.

Below is the full statement:


I have studied the 12 page 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 issued by the Office of the Special Prosecutor on 3rd August, 2022.

I wish to commend the Office of the Special Prosecutor(OSP) for the thorough investigation into my complaint, the findings and recommendations of which does not only indict the company but contain far-reaching directives for strengthening the administration of revenue mobilization at the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority.

The report vindicates my position that Ms. Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh, a known financier of President Akufo-Addo, a Council of State member and an appointee of the President on GPHA Board has been evading taxes from 2017 with the connivance of top Custom officials due to her influence in the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government.

While I commend the OSP for the findings on the dealings of the Labianca company at the Ports, I disagree with aspects of the directives as stated in the report.

The Report in point 5.0 states that the OSP ordered La Bianca to pay to the State 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 Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority. It further states in 5.1 that this directive has been complied with since March 31, 2022.

It is my considered view that the refunds ordered are grossly understated. Given the length of time (2017-2022) that these underhand dealings has gone on between the company and the Customs Division of GRA, there’s strong evidence to suggest that the state has lost far more in revenue than the company has been made to refund.

Also, even though a prima facie case has been made against the Chief Executive of the company in respect of her peddling her influence as a Board member of GPHA and a member of the Council of State to rob the State of millions in taxes, the Report in point 4.32 reckons that “the circumstances of the case, as yet, does not warrants an application to the Court for lifting the veil of incorporation of these companies.” With due deference to the OSP, the Petitioner strongly disagrees with this conclusion and believes that a case has been made for piercing the veil of the companies involved and going after their beneficial owner.

While it is commendable that the Report directs a full scale investigation into the issuance of customs advance rulings and markdown of benchmark values between July 2017 and December 2021, petitioner believes that such an investigation only goes to uncovering the full extent of the rot and not whether or not there’s a substantive case for criminal prosecution in respect of the adverse findings made on this Petition.

Indeed the Report correctly asserts in point 4.33 that the only basis for which the Customs Division seems to have issued the Advance Custom Ruling which reduced the benchmark value for import taxes by La Bianca, was that Ms. Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh had used her influence as Board member of GPHA and member of the Council of State to procure same.

A strong case therefore exist for prosecution by the OSP under section 3(1)(a) of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Act, 2017 (Act 959).

Tax evasion is criminal under our various Tax Laws and anyone who abets same must face criminal charges under section 20(1) of the Criminal & Other Offences Act (as variously amended), Act 29.

In that respect, all officials of the Custom Division who enabled this rot must also be charged and prosecuted.

In Republic v Philip Assibit & Abuga Pele (Suit No. FTRM 122/14) it was affirmed that by writing letters, recommending and approving payment of over GHc3 million in support of fraudulent claims, the 2nd accused had facilitated the commission of the crime of defrauding by false and was therefore convicted for abetment. The circumstances of this case and the findings of this Report lends itself to a criminal syndicate who have acted to deprive the State of huge sums of revenue in taxes.

Members of the Council of State are supposed to exhibit high levels of integrity. By using her influence as a Member of such a prominent State institution for corrupt influences, the indicted member cannot continue being on the Council of State.
In the coming days, the petitioner will petition the appropriate bodies for her removal from the Council of State.

Petitioner concludes by commending and thanking the Office of the Special Prosecutor for giving due attention to his Petition.
The silver linen is that the shady deals between Labianca, a known financier of Akufo-Addo and Customs, which have occasioned huge revenue losses to the state since 2017, has for now been exposed and halted.

Frank Asare

Asaase Radio 99.5 – tune in or log on to broadcasts online
99.5 in Accra, 101.5 in Bawku, 99.9 in Bimbilla, 100.3 in Cape Coast, 90.7 in Ho, 98.5 in Kumasi, 99.7 in Tamale,, U 89.5 in Tarkwa and 106.9 in Walewale
Join the conversation. Call: 020 000 9951 or 059 415 7777. Or WhatsApp: 020 000 0995.

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button

Adblock Detected