A High Court in Accra will soon witness one of the most interesting cases it has ever considered in the country’s legal history as the Special Prosecutor, Martin A. B. K. Amidu battles it out with the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga, over tax evasion.
Mr. Ayariga, a Harvard trained lawyer is accused of fraudulent evasion of Customs Duties and Taxes contrary to Section 121 (2) (f) of the Customs Act, 2015 (Act 891) in a deal in which he cleared three Toyota V8 Land Cruisers without paying the approved taxes on them.
He is reported to have paid a paltry GH₵6,062.86 instead of the approved duties and taxes of GH₵36,597.15.
The Bawku Central legislator is also accused of using public office for private benefit contrary to Section 179C (a) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) by selling the said three Toyota V8 Land Cruisers with registration numbers GR 2220-18, GR 2221-18, and GR 2222-18 which were meant to be used for his official duties as an MP to one Kendrick Akwasi Marfo of Atlas Rent a Car at a price of US$40,000.00 each.
Mr. Kendrick Akwasi Marfo has also been joined in the suit filed by the Mr. Amidu for fraudulent evasion of Customs Duties and Taxes contrary to Section 121 (2) (f) of the Customs Act, 2015 (Act 891). He is accused of purchasing the said three Toyota V8 Land Cruiser Vehicles without paying the Customs Duties and Taxes on them knowing that the Duties and Taxes on them had not been paid.
Mr. Ayariga, who was the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation in the Mahama administration, is further accused of dealing in Foreign Exchange without license, an act which is contrary to Section 3(1) and 29(1) (a) of the Foreign Exchange Act, 2006 (Act 723).
He is said to have conducted business in the supply of the second hand three V8 Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles with an agent in Dubai in Foreign Exchange without having the required license to undertake such transaction.
That notwithstanding, Mr. Ayariga is further accused of transferring the Foreign Exchange from Ghana through an unauthorized dealer, an act which is contrary to Sections 15(3) and 29(1)(a) of the Foreign Exchange Act 2006, Act 723.
Backing the case which was filed an Accra High Court on March 27, 2019, by the Office of the Special Prosecutor with facts, the Investigator, DSO Rockson Gyimah, said Parliament at is 5th Sitting on April 7, 2019, by a Resolution approved a loan agreement for the purchase of Members’ official vehicles between the House and Societe General – Ghana.
Out of this loan, each MP was entitled to US$80,000.00 payable within a period of four years for the purchase of their official vehicle. Members of Parliament however, could only access the loan facility through a supplier and no MP was entitled to personally collect the loan due them for the stated purpose for which the loan was secured or otherwise.
According to the investigator, Mr. Ayariga however connived with one Sheriff Ahmed Jijani Abdulai, who had registered a company called ASH Plantpool Limited (ASH Plantpool) with the sole aim of representing the company as the former’s supplier.
“Mr. Ayariga (marked as A1) then requested his share of the loan to be released to ASH Plantpool Limited as his supplier and the same was released to the company by Societe General – Ghana based on the approval of the Deputy Clerk of Parliament. When the money was transferred into the company’s account, US$78,000.00 was transferred to Mr. Ayariga’s personal account with Standard Chartered Bank – Opiebea House while Sherrif Ahmed Tijani Abdulai kept the remaining US$2,000 as his commission contrary to the loan agreement”, said facts of the case as presented by the investigator partly read.
Having received the money, Mr. Ayariga is reported to have used it to import three second hand Toyota V8 Land Cruiser vehicles from Dubai.
“He then applied for tax exemption to clear the three vehicles from the port and he was granted same on condition that he pays duties and taxes of GH₵36,591.15) upfront before the vehicles are cleared from the port since the duties and taxes on the vehicles exceeded his allowable tax exemption. Instead of paying the amount as stated as tax however, an amount of GH₵6,062.86 was rather paid by Mr. Ayariga to clear the vehicles from the port – Tema. When the vehicles were cleared from the port, Mr. Ayariga instead of using them for his official duties for which reason tax exemption was granted to him, sold them out to Kendrick Akwasi Marfo (marked A2) at a cost US$40,000.00 each of which Mr. Marfo made part payment of US$9,000.00 and promised to pay the outstanding balance in August, 2018”, the Investigator explained in his fact sheet.
According to him, investigations into the matter revealed that Mr. Ayariga transferred US$90,000.00 to Dubai for the purchase of the vehicle through an agent of his supplier who had no license to deal in foreign exchange transaction.
The investigations, he further noted, revealed that Mr. Marfo knew the vehicles were exempted from Customs duties and taxes, yet failed to pay those exemptions before he purchased the vehicles neither did Mr. Ayariga pay those tax exemptions before the sale.