The Ghana Cement Company (GHACEM) and the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) have been hit by a scandal involving 5.2 billion cedis suspected to have been stolen by a clique of four.
Police sources in Takoradi said that the two officials of CEPS and an employee of GHACEM connived with a clear agent to steal the money which had accrued from duties on imported clinker.
The suspects were said to have succeeded in cashing various cheques issued in the name of CEPS with the help of an official of the Ghana Commercial Bank, Takoradi Main Branch for a fee of 100 million cedis after each deal. The identity of the said manager has not been disclosed.
The suspects, Anthony Angoe, 50, the Shipping Manager of GHACEM, Ben Adu Blankson, 33, a clearing clerk and employee of EMBA Links Co. Ltd, the clearing for GHACEM in Takoradi, Nicholas Atsu Yevoo, 40, and Arnold Djameh, 50, both CEPS officials in Takoradi.
The Western Regional Police Command has charged the four with the offences of conspiracy to steal and stealing.
Upon interrogation, Angoe admitted his involvement and said he received 1.7 billion cedis of the said amount, while Yevoo, Blankson and Djameh denied any involvement but said they would help pay the money.
Investigations revealed that the import and customs duties on clinker imported by GHACEM from Norway were normally prepared by Blankson and then handed over to Angoe who then caused cheques to be issued by his management to CEPS for the payment of the duties.
The crossed cheques which were issued were returned to Blankson, who put a declaration on them and subsequently submitted them to the bank for payment, after the cheques had been confirmed to either Atsu or Djameh on various occasions.
After the payments had been made in respect of the two cheques, the suspects repeated the whole process, using the same documents.
The second round of the cheques was then handed over to the two CEPS officials who received cash payments from private and individual importers up to the tune of the GHACEM cheques at their disposal which they in turn used to clear the goods of the individual importers.
The cash collected by the two CEPS officials was shared among those involved in the deal.
Yevoo, Djameh and Blankson who have denied their involvement in the deal, however agreed to refund 5.2 billion which had been discovered in the deal in the course of the investigation. They have refunded 1.450 billion cedis through their respective lawyers.
The Western Regional Police Commander, Deputy Police Commissioner of Police, Kofi Duku Arthur said the Works Manager of GHACEM, R.B Graham reported to the Regional Criminal Investigations Department on March 20, 2006 that the company's Shipping Officer, Angoe had stolen the company's cheques with a face value of 2,258,331 cedis and succeeded in withdrawing the said amount at the Takoradi Branch of the GCB.
Mr Graham said some officials of CEPS and GCB were suspected to be involved in the theft.
Mr Arthur said further internal audit carried out by GHACEM revealed that in February and November 2005, Angoe with the help of Blankson prepared fictious import duty claims of 961,114,025 cedis and 1,981,576,985 cedis respectively, and succeeded in cashing the cheques from the Takoradi Branch of the GCB with the assistance of some CEPS officials.
He said based upon the information provided by the complainant, the police proceeded to Angoe's house but did not meet him. They were informed that he had traveled to London to seek medical treatment for his eyes.
He said a warrant for his arrest was quickly obtained from the Sekondi District Magistrate's Court and a publication was placed in the Wednesday, July 26 2006 edition of the Daily Graphic for his arrest.
DCP Arthur said INTERPOL was also informed to help trace the suspect in London and cause his arrest and repatriation.
Source: Daily Graphic