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07.07.2005 General News

VAT Man Fired


A senior official of the Value Added Tax (VAT) Service, has been sacked for his alleged involvement in a $30,000 bribery scandal involving him and Kasapreko Distilleries Company of Accra.

The dismissed official alleged that the company (Kasapreko) gave the money to him and Mr Andzi Quainoo, now deceased, to be offered to the Commissioner of VAT Service to influence an audit report on the company.

The Commissioner of VAT, Mr Joseph F. Odartey Blankson, confirmed yesterday that the decision to dismiss Mr Dangbey followed an interim report the management received from a special committee set up to investigate the alleged bribery case.

He added, however, that the action taken was without prejudice to any further action that would be so recommended by the committee when it completed its work in a week's time.

Mr Blankson said the service had instituted adequate measures to ensure that such acts of bribery and corruption intended to drag the name of the service into disrepute were exposed and noted the $30,000 bribery case was one of the instances of exposure resulting from the stringent measures that had been put in place by the service.

The Graphic gathered that when the scandal was uncovered, Mr Dangbey tendered his resignation but the management of the VAT Service refused to accept to ensure that a committee was set up to investigate the matter.

In Mr Dangbey's response, dated March 10, 2005, to the letter from the VAT management refusing his resignation request, he denied ever taking the money personally, although he conceded having received it and later handed it over to the late Mr Quainoo.

“I wish to state that I did not receive any $30,000 for the purpose of influencing the Commissioner of VAT Service,” he said.

According to the letter, he was approached by the General Manager of Kasapreko Distilleries Limited in July 2004 at his Teshie/Nungua residence with a message from the managing director of the company, who was said to be in the United States of America (USA) at the time.

It said, “According to him, I should advise the management of the company, on the recent assessments raised by a team of VAT officers, since I was the leader of the team that made the assessment.”

Mr Dangbey said he told the general manager that although he was the leader of the team of investigators, he did not actually take part in the audit, for which reason he could not help.

He said prior to the commencement of the exercise, he lost his elder brother and four days later he lost his secretary.

Later, he fell ill, adding that “the illness prevailed during the entire audit exercise”.

Mr Dangbey said since he was not available throughout the period of the exercise, he told the general manager to contact Mr Andzi, since he was an expert in excise transactions.

“Later, the manager came to inform me that they had held discussions with Andzi, after which Andzi asked him to come and leave a parcel with me for him” (Andzi).

According to the manager, they linked up with Andzi on phone and he directed them to me that since he was busy they should come and leave the parcel with me,” Mr Dangbey said in the letter.

He said when he asked the manager what was in the parcel, he said Andzi would brief him.

Mr Dangbey said he threatened the manager that if it was a bribe, he was not going to be part of it. “At that point, the manager jokingly pleaded with me to help him reach the commissioner.

I bluntly told him no, since the commissioner was my boss and I had never had or discussed that type of business with him,” he said and added, “He left the parcel with me and left.”

Mr Dangbey said when later Andzi linked up with him, he(Dangbey) attacked him as to what the money was for and was told that it was meant for the commissioner to help the Kasapreko Company.

“I then asked him how on earth he could approach the commissioner, his boss, with that money. I then told him that I did not like the idea of him dragging me into that business and that what I could do for him is to allow him to send back the money to Kasapreko Management,” he said.

According to him, “the late Andzi disagreed with me and this led to a heated argument between me and him. Later, he agreed to send back the money but when I called him a week later, he informed me that he had not sent the money but that he was certainly going to do so”.

Unfortunately, he said, Andzi did not confirm to him whether he returned the money before his untimely death.

Mr Dangbey said, “Indeed, I must say that the whole incident is very unfortunate and the death of Andzi has complicated matters.”

“Honestly, assuming it is true that I took this money, I cannot imagine how I could secure the courage to stand in front of Commissioner with bribe money,” he said.

Meanwhile, a letter to deny the resignation request of Mr Dangbey, signed by Mr S.V, Akuffo, Assistant commissioner, Administration, VAT, and dated March 2, 2005, said, “We write to inform you that your resignation from the VAT Service as per your letter dated January 10, 2005 has not been accepted.”

“You are, however, to answer a query bordering on your attitude to work and bringing the name of the service and the commissioner into disrepute,” the letter said.

The letter said “around August 2004, you received an amount of $30,000 from Kasapreko Distilleries Limited for the purpose of influencing the Commissioner of the VAT Service.”

“You admitted to the commissioner receiving the amount but indicated that you passed on the amount to the late Andzi Quainoo, formerly of LTU. You further admitted to the Commissioner that you were aware that the late Mr Andzi Quainoo did not pass on the amount to the commissioner before his death.

You subsequently confirmed the above facts or information to the commissioner in the presence of two (2) other senior management members.”

The letter said, “Your action in this regard constitutes gross misconduct and a violation of Article 16d, f and q of the conditions of service for the VAT Service Staff as enshrined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).”

When contacted late yesterday for Kasapreko's reaction to the allegations, one of the General Managers of the company denied knowledge of what had happened.

He said the company had not received nor seen any document from VAT and was, therefore, not in a position to comment on the allegation