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It has been indicated that the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) might have been directly accessing funds in the accounts of individuals they were investigating.
The Executive Director of EOCO, Mortey Akpadzi, alluded to this, adding that the Office might have been forced to tamper with individuals’ funds when the EOCO “was expecting government subvention and it wasn’t coming, we will use it and when the subvention comes, they will replenish it.”
He was speaking to Accra based Citi FM on Monday.
This state of affairs also came to light at a closed-door meeting with Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) mid last week. The Auditor-General’s report for 2010 and 2011 on state-owned boards and cooperations also made allusions to this occurrence.
Aggrieved sources have told DAILY GUIDE of their ordeal with the EOCO, where their issues involving cash had seen officials deducting some percentage of their funds for what they said was usually for “administrative use”.
Mr. Akpadzi, however, insisted that the practice became extinct when he took over as the head of EOCO some six years ago, admitting that it was against the law “and so we will never touch it under any circumstances and it has never happened under my watch.”
He recalled that since EOCO was set up in 2010, “nothing like that has happened and will ever happen at least, under my watch because by law, it’s illegal to touch exhibits.”
“…we are putting in institutional measures to prevent it even after I leave,” he told the radio station.
But the Member of Parliament for Effutu in the Central Region, Alex Afenyo Markin, was not convinced by this explanation, accusing EOCO of operating illegally.
He has threatened to drag the office to the Supreme Court.
Recently, EOCO officials were fingered for allegedly aiding Supa Bets Ghana Limited – a sports betting company – to evade import duties, including penalties, worth more than GH¢1 million.
Gilbert Akpabey, a Chartered Accountant contracted by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning in 2011 to check revenue leakages in Customs transaction points, told DAILY GUIDE exclusively that in 2011, he discovered that Supa Bets imported several betting machines into the country, but used insiders to re-categorize the machines as computer monitors, to avoid paying the hefty import duties slapped on betting machines.
According to Mr. Akpabey, realizing the anomalies in the cargo noticeable, he promptly reported the incident to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) as a whistleblower code-named Big Joe.
The clearly peeved chartered accountant told DAILY GUIDE he found out that when cases like this were reported to EOCO for investigations, officers of the outfit clandestinely approached the defaulting companies to lower the quantum of tax evaded in return for attractive cuts.
In the alleged findings which he attached to his May 2013 letter to the GRA, Mr. Akpabey disclosed that EOCO determined that Supa Bets dodged duties valued at $212,510.
Supa Bets is said to have declared $8,322.19 as the cost, insurance and freight (CIF) of the betting machines, instead of the actual CIF of $352,995.76 – a declaration that made Supa Bets avoid paying over $200,000.
Source: Raphael Ofori-Adeniran/Daily Guide