The state, through the Special Operations Unit (SOU) of the Office of the President, has recovered GH¢780,000 from importers who underpaid import duties on 14 containers of cooking oil.
Fourteen containers of Hayat Vegetable Cooking Oil were undervalued on arrival but investigations by the SOU revealed that instead of the total duty of GH¢898,385.80 the importers paid GH¢118, 731.23.
It would be recalled that this paper, in the May 19 edition, reported how an estimated GH¢36 billion was lost to the state annually due to the fraudulent activities of importers and clearing agents.
But for the vigilance of the SOU, the state would have incurred another loss of GH¢779,654.57 through fraud at the port.
A highly placed source at the SOU told the Daily Graphic that the importers claimed there were 500 of five-litre gallons of the cooking oil in each container but when the containers were tagged and later examined at the instance of the SOU, it was discovered that there were rather 1,098 of 25 litres of the cooking oil in each container.
According to the source, the importer would be required to pay a penalty of 300 per cent of the amount defrauded and that the unit would not relent its effort to retrieve monies fraudulently lost to the state.
The SOU was established by President Mahama with the mandate to launch a major campaign to retrieve monies lost to the state through fraudulent activities at the ports.
Those activities include Final Customs Verification Report (FCVR) fraud, where some importers falsify documents to underpay clearing duties.
The Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Mr George Blankson, has commended the SOU officers for intercepting the containers and saving the country thousands of cedis.
A letter signed by Mr Blankson, a copy of which the Daily Graphic has, assured the SOU that the necessary follow-up actions had been initiated to recover the short collection and penalties.
“By a copy of this letter, the Commissioner, Customs Division, is requested to ensure prompt recovery of the short collection in addition to 300 per cent penalty and report to the undersigned,” the letter said.
Additionally, it said the Commissioner of the Customs Division was to conduct full-scale investigation to identify the culpable officers for appropriate sanctions.
Mr Blankson gave the assurance that a report on the outcome of the investigation and efforts to recover the revenue and penalties would be made known to the SOU.