Amidu makes second move; files 5 fresh charges against Mahama Ayariga

Mr Amidu [R] wants the Speaker of Parliament to release Mr Ayariga for trial

[L-R] Mr Ayariga and Special Prosecutor Amidu[/caption]The Special Prosecutor has filed fresh charges against Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga, over the importation into the country and sale of three second-hand V8 vehicles, which were exclusively for his official use. It is the second move by the Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, to attempt to get the Accra High Court to imprison the legislator for allegedly breaching the laws of the land in the importation and sale of the three Toyota V8 Land Cruisers. Amindu’s initial attempt suffered a setback in court last month as the judge struck out three of the four charges he filed against Mr Ayariga, whose case is the first to have come from the Special Prosecutor’s office more than a year after it started operations. The charges of fraudulent evasion of taxes, fraudulent evasion of customs duties and dealing in foreign exchange without a license were dismissed by the court on grounds that they were not within the mandate of the Special Prosecutor as they are not corruption-related offences. Mr Ayariga now faces five new charges of using public office for private benefit and for profit contrary to section 179C (a) and 179D of the criminal offences Act, Act 29, court documents filed on July 11 and sighted by have revealed. The charge sheet stated Mr Ayariga in 2017, dishonestly abused his office for private benefit by contriving to have paid into his personal account through an intermediary, 80,000-dollar loan granted by parliament, instead of being paid through the banking system or directly to the supplier of the vehicles. Also in November 2017, he was said to have abused his office for private benefit by fraudulently evading customs duties and taxes of 36,597.15 cedis which he was requested by the Ministry of Finance to pay in order to clear the three vehicles he imported into the country. This was after he was granted tax and duties exemption on the basis that the vehicles were for his official use as a member of parliament. Mr Ayariga paid only 6,062.86 cedis, the charge sheet stated. Further, the document showed in March 2018 at Dansoman, Ayariga used his office to make profit, by fraudulently evading customs duties and taxes when he ceased using the vehicles for his official duties as MP, and sold them for 40,000 dollars each without paying the waived duties and taxes of 153,716.50 cedis. His accomplice, Kenderick Akwasi Marfo, a car rental dealer, who was discharged by the High Court in the first case now faces one count of acting in collaboration with a public officer for the officer’s private profit. Marfo is accused of conniving with Ayariga for him to dishonestly abuse his public office for private profit when bought the three vehicles at 40,000 dollars each when he and Ayariga knew that the duties and taxes of 153,716.50 on the said vehicles had not been paid.

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What facts informed the charges? Parliament at its fifth sitting on 7’s day of April 2017 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 Member of Parliament was entitled to Eighty Thousand US dollars loan payable within a period of four yean for the purchase of their official vehicle. Members of Parliament however could only access the loan facility through a supplier and no Member of Parliament was entitled to personally collect the loan due them for the stated purpose Ayariga however connived with one Sheriff Ahmed Tijani 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. Ayariga then requested his share of the loan to be released to ASH  Plantpool as his supplier and the same was release to the company by SG-Ghana based on the approval of the Deputy Clerk of Parliament. When the money was transferred into the company’s account, 78.000.00 dollars was transferred to Ayariga’s personal account with Standard Chartered Bank – Opiebea House while Sheriff Ahmed Tijani Abdulai kept the reaming 2.000.00 dollars as his commission contrary to the loan agreement. Ayariga then used the money to import three second-hand Toyota V8 Land Cruisers from Dubai. He then applied for tax exemption to cleat the three vehicles from the port and he was granted same on condition that he pays duties and taxes of 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 stated as tax however, an amount of 6,062.86 cedis was rather paid by Ayariga to clear the vehicles from the port- Tema. When the vehicles were cleared from the port Ayariga instead of using them for his official duties for which reason tax exemption was granted to him sold them out to Marfo at cost of 40.000 dollars of which Marfo made part payment of 9.000 dollars and promised to pay the outstanding balance in August 2018. Investigations into the matter revealed that Ayariga transferred 90,000 dollars to Dubai for the purchase of the vehicles through an agent of his overseas supplier who had no licence to deal in foreign exchange transaction. The investigations further revealed that though Marfo knew the vehicles were exempt from customs duties and taxes, he failed to pay those exemptions before he purchased the vehicles neither did Ayariga pay those tax exemptions before the sale. Based on these facts, the Special Prosecutor charged the two persons for trial.
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