OSP investigates 70 other cases apart from Labianca scandal; seeks support, funding and assurance for its staff

Mr Kissi Agyebeng is the Special Prosecutor of Ghana

The Office of the Special Prosecutor, has said it is also investigating seventy (70) other cases at various levels of consideration apart from the Labianca Foods scandal it probed.

These would be publicised if the Special Prosecutor determines that they are within the mandate of the Office and that they should be moved past the preliminary investigation stage, the OSP said in its half year report for 2022.

“This is a policy intended to protect the privacy of individuals and the business operations of institutions and companies, and to avoid
unnecessary stigmatisation,” the report said.

In the conclusion remarks, the report by the OSP said “The Office shows much promise and it is poised to deliver on its mandate notwithstanding its formidable challenge of funding and material support. There is much force in the often-quoted observation that the law always appears to be a step behind criminal innovation. As technological advancement ushers in marvels hitherto unknown, perpetrators of corruption and corruption-related offences device sophisticated ways adapted to avoid detection.

“On this score, corrupt public officials and private persons exploit legal systems by employing diverse means to push back against law enforcement especially through intimidation and sometimes open threats directed at anti-corruption officials.

“The Office requires adequate support and funding and the assurance of protection for its staff to perform their functions devoid of unjustifiable recrimination. We invite the public to take a firm stance against corruption and corruptionrelated offences and to report and file complaints where such offences are suspected. This is the surest way to curtail corruption in the Republic.”

The Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) recovered over GHC1 million GHC1,074, 627.15) from Labianca Foods in unpaid import duties, a scandal involving a company belong to a Council of State member.

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In his view, the report is ‘hollow and actuated by malice’.

The OSP also called for wider investigations into Customs Division of the GRA and demanded for a copy of Integrity plans to prevent corruption.

The OSP investigated alleged corruption and corruption related offences in the context of evasion and valuation of duties on frozen and processed food products imported into Ghana between 2017-2021.

The case, according to the OSP involved some high-ranking officials of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

In its report on the investigations, the OSP said “Labianca Company Limited commenced operations in 2014 and it is wholly owned and controlled by Ms. Asomah-Hinneh on all practical and legal considerations. The company, it appears, imports about two hundred (200) forty (40) footer shipping containers of frozen chicken parts, fish, pork and fries monthly primarily from Europe and the United States of America. It enjoys a substantial market share in the imported frozen foods industry.

“There was not much engagement with the Customs Division in the first three (3) years of the company’s operations beyond the settlement of standard customs duty and other tax obligations until 2017 when the company actively commenced applications to the Customs Division for the acceptance by the latter of the values of frozen foods it intended to import.

“By the time the company commenced the applications, Ms. Asomah-Hinneh had been elected a member of the Council of State representing the Western Region and appointed a member of the governing board of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority – positions she held at all material times. On this reckoning, Ms. Asomah-Hinneh is a politically exposed person as defined under section 79 of Act 959.”

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By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana