More Companies Caught Evading Tax

Rev. Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah, GRA boss

THE GHANA Revenue Authority (GRA) says it has discovered more companies which are allegedly involved in tax-evasion, under-invoicing and money-laundering.

Earlier this week, the GRA announced that it was investigating 1,200 local and foreign companies for their alleged involvement in such crimes. However, the number has increased.

Florence Asante, Assistant Commissioner Communication and Public Affairs, confirmed that GRA uncovered approximately 10,000 unreconciled documents from over 2,000 companies with funds transferred totaling about $1.8 billion in 2019.

She said in 2020, GRA discovered that multiple Import Declaration Forms (IDFs) issued to importers were wrongly used for other purposes.

“IDFs are issued by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and indicate the type, quantity and cost of goods to aid commercial banks to transfer funds. It is a regulatory requirement for reconciliation with Customs Documents,” she noted.

She revealed in a statement that a multi-agency team was formed in the third quarter of 2020 with members drawn from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Finance, GRA, Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) & the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) to carry out investigations into the issue.

“The team’s initial analysis of data on record from the commercial banks against Customs data for the calendar year 2019 uncovered approximately 10,000 unreconciled documents from over 2,000 companies with funds transferred in the region of $1.8 billion.”

Mrs Asante maintained that given the volume of transactions involved, several importers were questioned. He said the initial findings indicated that IDFs used to clear the goods were different from IDFs used to obtain foreign exchange.

Among others she said GRA discovered that the quantity of goods imported by the indicted companies were less than the value on the IDFs issued (i.e. under invoicing); there were single transfer of funds for multiple imports and multiple recipients; while also there were transfers on behalf of importers by forex/informal financial sector operators including transfers of funds by bank staff for clients who were not importers.

The Assistant Commissioner added that as a result of the discovery of these infractions, the team has among other things, accordingly developed a procedure for processing all the unreconciled IDFs to prevent their recurrence.

“The GRA assures taxpayers and the general public that investigations are on-going and when completed, duties, other taxes, interests and penalties will be recovered and appropriate sanctions applied to all defaulting individuals and companies,” she mentioned.

By Linda Tenyah–Ayettey