Ghana

Court Quashes La Bianca Report Against Col. Damoah

Col. Kwadwo Damoah (Rtd.) 

 

A High Court in Accra yesterday set aside sections of a report by the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) which implicated two officials of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) in the La Bianca case.

The court presided over by Justice William Boampong, in a ruling held that the OSP exceeded its powers in assuming the role of court of competent jurisdiction or a committee of enquiry by making adverse finding against former Commissioner of the Customs Division at GRA, Col. Kwadwo Damoah (Rtd.) and former Deputy Commissioner of the Division, Joseph Adu-Kyei.

The two men had gone to court challenging the OSP’s report, claiming it was without merit.

The OSP, last year, implicated the two GRA top officials in a report for allegedly undervaluing clearance of cargo from the port and granting favourable tax treatment to La Bianca Company.

La Bianca is a frozen foods company owned by Council of State member Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh.

The OSP in its report said it recovered GH¢1,074, 627.15 from La Bianca Foods in unpaid import duties.

Col. Damoah had described the report as hollow and actuated by malice targeted at his person by the OSP.

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

The OSP further expanded its investigation to cover 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).

But Col. Damoah and Mr. Adu-Kyei went to court seeking a certiorari to set aside the OSP’s report and also stop him from further investigating them.

The court presided over by Justice Boampong, yesterday agreed with the applicants and set aside sections of the report relating to the applicants, holding that the OSP exceeded its authority by purporting to make adverse findings against the two.

The court also took exception to the OSP publishing the said report to the public thereby subjecting the applicant to a trial by public opinion.

The court also granted an order of prohibition against the OSP from purporting to further investigate the matter against the applicants.

The court further awarded a cost of GH¢10,000 against the OSP.

OSP Reacts

The OSP in a post of X (formerly Twitter) said it rejects the decision of the court in its entirety.

The post said, “In arriving at the findings of the matter, the OSP did not constitute itself into a court or a Commission of Enquiry. The findings were based on investigations carried out by the OSP and the OSP is mandated by law to publish detected acts of corruption and its publication of the investigation report is in accordance with its statutory mandate.”

It continued that the decision of the court is extremely inimical to the fight against corruption and the administration of justice for a court to prohibit investigations.

“The OSP will not permit this decision to stand,” it added.

BY Gibril Abdul Razak