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Probe Into Irregularities in Timber Industry Under Way

By Chronicle
By Chronicle

4/30/2003 -

Three officials of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) at the Tema main harbour, Messrs. J. K. Enninful, Alex Techie Yeboah and Samuel Brako have been interdicted for their involvement in the fraudulent clearance of a cargo container at the Tema port in February this year.

With their action, the three officials have caused a financial loss of over ¢28 million to the state.

Chronicle investigations at the port revealed that a cargo container loaded with household effects and electrical goods was discharged from a Nigerian vessel, MV/MSC Nigeria at the Tema port for processing and clearance.

It gathered that the container which belongs to Mr. P. O. Mensah and cleared by Mr. Joseph Kwesi Apkatse of Maroon Clearing Agency at Tema was declared as containing household and personal effects and so a paltry sum of only ¢93,000 was paid to the government.

Further investigations revealed that the three officials contorted the original catalogue of the clearing documents, and backed with their positions at the port, managed to influence the clearing process and smuggled the cargo container through all the check points.

After the preliminary documentations were made, Mr. Techie Yeboah was detailed to conduct an initial examination of the inventory of the clearance documents.

Mr. J. K. Enninful then instructed Mr. Samuel Brako to copy the outcome of the examination conducted by Mr. Techie into a landing accounts after which he (Enninful) appended his signature.

Not even the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) tally clerk, Mr. K. Bamfo Apori who was on duty could detect the inconsistency in the inventory of the clearance documents, Chronicle learnt.

Then, armed with the falsified bill of lading and CEPS receipts of clearance, they managed to play a fast and loose one on all the CEPS check points at the Eastern gate of the port including the lading loading tax force, release special task force and documents offices until it was intercepted at the final exit point by security officers at post.

Chronicle investigations at the port have revealed that this is not the fist time such an incident is taking place - in fact, it has become a ritual.

Information available to us have is that between December last year and April this year, the government has lost revenue to the tune of over ¢177.5 million through such activities at the port.

When contacted, the assistant commissioner (AC) of CEPS, in charge of the Tema office Mr. Ankrah confirmed the story saying "it is a fact, however, the matter is presently before my commissioner and I therefore cannot pre-empt anything." He later directed us to talk to the public relations officer at the headquarters, but at the time of going to press we still had not been able to reach him as we were told on phone that he was not available.