Customs Officer, 2 Indians Before Court For Tax Evasion

A revenue officer of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has been accused of aiding two Indian nationals to evade $263,277.14 import duty on 30,074 bags of rice.
Kate Kai-Kotey, who was in charge of a customs bonded house which contained the 30,074 bags of rice owned by Mentouf Khan and Murtaza Khan, both Indians, allegedly charged the Indians GH¢0.20 for each bag smuggled from the warehouse.

According to investigators, Mentouf in addition to various sums of money he had paid to Kate, allegedly credited an additional GH¢500 to Kate’s private account for aiding him to remove the uncustomed goods from the bonded warehouse.

The offence was committed between January 8, 2012 and February 10, 2014.

The three were yesterday put before the Circuit Court in Accra, presided over by Mr Francis Obiri and charged with various offences.

Kate has been charged with three counts of abetment of crime, falsification of account and corruption by public officer.

Mentouf and Murtaza were both charged with a count each of taking unentered goods while Mentouf faced an additional charge of corruption of public officer.

Kate and Mentouf have pleaded not guilty to the charges and were admitted to bail after their lawyer, Mr Yaw Boateng Gyan, pleaded with the court to grant them bail.

Bail conditions
Kate was granted bail in the sum of GH¢20,000 with two sureties, one to be justified while Mentouf was admitted to a GH¢750,000 bail with three sureties, one to be justified.

Mentouf was also ordered to hand over his passport to the registrar of the court. As part of the bail conditions, his sureties must include a civil servant with a net salary of not less than GH¢1,500.

Murtaza was absent resulting in the court directing him to report on the next adjourned date.

The court adjourned the case to February 26, 2015 for hearing.

Facts of case
According to the prosecution, the two Indian businessmen were based in Ghana and were engaged in the import and sale of food items, particularly rice.

Kate, on the other hand, was stationed at the Warehousing Unit of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Customs Division at James Town, Accra.

In January 2012, Mentouf and Murtaza imported more than 33,000 bags of rice from Pakistan.

Under customs arrangements, the rice consignment was stored in Customs Bonded Warehouse No A 61, La Accra, awaiting the payment of import duties.

The prosecution said Kate’s duties included ensuring that all documentations accompanying goods entering the bonded warehouse were properly entered in the Bond Register and only the true quantity and description of goods allowed into the Bond.

She also had the responsibility of ensuring that goods that left the bonded warehouse had true and genuine Customs Declaration Documents, the right import duties paid and documents on these were to be given to her to enter into the Bond Register.

Kate also had the duty to ensure that only goods mentioned in the Customs Declaration Documents and in their right quantities were taken out of the bond.

According to the prosecution, a total of 30,074 bags of rice with each weighing 50 kilogramme were smuggled out of the bonded warehouse under the watch of Kate without the payment of import duties between January 8, 2012 and February 10, 2014.