Mr. Samuel Sarpong, Ashanti Regional Zonal Head of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), on Thursday said that it had not been the practice of the Office to respond to views expressed by the public regarding its operations.
However, to avoid prejudicing investigations due to the misinformation being peddled in the media concerning the alleged harassment of certain businessmen perceived to be New Patriotic Party (NPP) sympathizers, it was necessary to set the records straight.
A statement signed by Mr. Sarpong said the reaction was basically due to the fact that about four of five NPP sympathizers felt that the monitoring of over 20 companies this year by the SFO was a witch hunting.
He reminded Ghanaians that the SFO performed reactive and proactive functions to protect the public purse.
Mr. Sarpong said the Office acted on perceived misrepresentation or manipulation of financial statements, non-payment of company tax, payee and non-payment of social security contribution of workers among others.
He said “It is in this area that we look at the possible evasion of tax which is well within our remit and that had been performed over the last 11 years by the Office of which I have been the Head and nobody has raised a finger about it.
Mr. Sarpong said he was happy that all criticisms being made did not question the professionalism of officers of the SFO.
He said “in pursuit of section 3, the section 13 of the Act empowers the SFO to call for documents or invite people to give information. It must be stressed that our monitoring activities which basically are preliminary investigations could also lead to unearthing fraud or preventing a potential fraud”.
Mr. Sarpong said some of the activities carried out in the recent past, which were captured in the SFO annual report included monitoring and investigations into trade and manufacturing companies.
The rest, he said were printing press houses, radio stations, herbal clinics, hotels, timber companies, private schools, private security companies, construction firms and rural banks over the years.