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27.03.2007 General News

Customs To Seize Vehicles Without Manifests

The Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) has warned that with effect from April 1, 2007, all vehicles that arrive at the ports/entry points without manifests shall be seized in accordance with the law.

It said the affected vehicles would include those that were in transit or transshipment so long as they were unmanifested.

A statement signed by the Assistant Commissioner of CEPS in charge of Public Relations, Ms Annie Anipa, said the measures were being taken following several incidents where vehicles discharged at the ports were found to be unmanifested.

It said upon seizure of the vehicles, CEPS would carry out thorough investigations in close collaboration with other security agencies, especially Interpol Ghana and international partners.

The statement said the investigations would, among other things, establish the make/model of the vehicle, the chassis number, the country of origin/manufacture, certificate of title and other documentary proof of ownership or possession of the consignor or the exporter.

It noted that during the period of investigations, the importer or the consignee would not be permitted to apply to the master of the carrier or its agent to amend the manifest unless the commissioner specifically allowed it.

The statement said where it was established at the end of the investigations that the importer or the consignee was entitled to clear the vehicle, he/she would be permitted upon written application to amend the manifest subject to payment of pecuniary penalty before clearance of the vehicle.

The statement said when it was established that the vehicle was stolen or its importation was tainted with fraud, such vehicle would be treated for re-exportation under the supervision of CEPS and Interpol Ghana, and upon an application by the interested party or a complainant who might be liable for any accidental expenses.

“Such re-exportation may only be done where the Ghanaian authorities receive a written or express application to that effect within a period of not more than three months after conclusion of investigations or any extensions thereafter not exceeding one month,” it said.

The statement said where no application for re-exportation was received at the expiration of the prescribed period, the vehicle involved would be deemed abandoned and it would accordingly be forfeited to the state and disposed of in line with the law.

It indicated that most of the unmanifested vehicles were usually concealed in containers together with other goods and personal effects.

According to the statement, information received indicated that such vehicles were either stolen or tainted with fraudulent insurance acts, a practice that was increasingly making Ghana a destination for stolen vehicles.

The statement reminded the public that under Section 101 of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (Management) Law, 1993 (PNDCL 330), as amended, it was an offence that a master of an aircraft or ship failed to report all goods or if any of the particulars contained in the report was found to be false.

It said the master or his agent found in breach of the law would face a penalty of not less than ¢5 million and all goods not duly reported would be liable to forfeiture, unless the omission was explained to the satisfaction of the commissioner.