The Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), in collaboration with the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), has confiscated five vessels at the Tema Port for docking without post-clearance audit.
Chinese Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), the Chinese company contracted by Meridian Port Services (MPS) and Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to undertake the Tema Port Expansion, was said to be operating unapproved sufferance wharf at the expansion project site.
A total of 12 vessels were reported to have docked and discharged goods without the knowledge of customs, BNI and National Security at the site until the transaction was discovered last week.
It is believed that some customs officials might have been compromised to conceal information on the activities of the Chinese firm, including supposed smuggling of goods.
The company is said to have breached the post-clearance audit of the Customs Act 891, 2015, which demands audit to verify the accuracy and authenticity of declarations and covers the control of traders’ commercial data, business systems, records and books before the release of a vessel.
The company is said to have been slapped with 3,000 penalty units on each of the five vessels.
Each vessel is expected to pay an amount of GH¢36,000 – all totaling GH¢180,000 – revenue to the state aside duties.
Confirming the confiscation to DAILY GUIDE, the Tema Sector Commander, Felix Teye Mate-Kudjo, said that customs picked intelligence and visited the site where the vessels were discharging goods.
Mr Mate-Kudjo stressed that the vessels and the cargos could be released subject to audit on them to ensure that no prohibited and restricted goods are included after payment of the penalty, adding, “They failed to bring a conveyance for customs to board the vessels before they sent the cargo to the area the vessels docked, moored and unloaded cargo before we had intelligence.”
He explained that the audit is to ensure that all goods are declared to customs for all revenue due the state to be calculated and collected.
“Some of the vessels came as far back as January without customs’ knowledge but we have identified those vessels and we are going to ensure that they go through the process with penalty,” according to the sector commander.
He said several controls had been put in place to ensure that the security of the country and revenues are not undermined.