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Popular CEO exonerated in a tax evasion case

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The A-G's instruction was based on a request by the EOCO's Executive Director, Commissioner of Police (COP) Maame Yaa Tiwaa Addo-Danquah, to undertake a forensic audit on the activities of USC, which is run by foreigners. When contacted, Anthony Forson Jnr, Lead Consultant, T. Forson & Co, praised the Attorney-General's office and EOCO for the comprehensive inquiry that resulted in Mr Ofori's exoneration.

The CEO of K-Ofori Limited and Kwadwo Boachie Enterprise has been cleared of all charges in a suspected tax evasion and money laundering case.

This follows almost two years of investigations by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), with assistance from the Attorney-General’s Office and the Ministry of Justice.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, advised the Attorney-General to drop the case against Frank Kwadwo Ofori, the CEO of K-Ofori Limited and a 10% shareholder of Universal Steel Company (USC) Limited, a company at the centre of tax evasion allegations.

“No evidence has been gathered to substantiate these claims. Mere suspicions are not enough to bring any charges against them,” the A-G’s advice stated.

The A-G’s instruction was based on a request by the EOCO’s Executive Director, Commissioner of Police (COP) Maame Yaa Tiwaa Addo-Danquah, to undertake a forensic audit on the activities of USC, which is run by foreigners.

When contacted, Anthony Forson Jnr, Lead Consultant, T. Forson & Co., praised the Attorney-General’s office and EOCO for the comprehensive inquiry that resulted in Mr Ofori’s exoneration.

Background 

According to the investigation’s terms of reference, suspects Ofori, Hani Mikati, Marwa Hamwi, and Sallam Mohammed Gharib were detained as people behind USC.

They each rejected the charges of tax evasion, money laundering, and participation in organised crime in their cautionary statements.

EOCO’s investigation revealed that USC’s company registration documents obtained from the Office of the Registrar of Companies revealed that the company began operations on August 13, 2004, with Mikati Abdul and Qaraman Sameer as the initial shareholders, and later Akosua Aboagye Ofori, Frank Ofori, and Sethi Brothers Company Ltd joined as shareholders.

It further revealed that since 2016, Frank Kwadwo Ofori and his wife Akosua Aboagye Ofori controlled 10% of the shares in USC, while Sethi Brothers owned 30%.

Following a review of K-Ofori Company Ltd’s bank records for the year 2019, the report said that no bogus banking activity were detected, adding, “All transfers from K-Ofori Ltd were linked to USC and its agents and affiliates.”

According to the report, the bank was also unable to furnish the EOCO team with any information on USC’s accounts upon request.

According to the bank accounts of the three foreign suspects, Marwan Hamwi took a total of GH5 million from the company’s account, but the inquiry could not reach a conclusion as to why the cash was removed or what it was used for.

DHL Ghana Limited credited Abdul Majid Mikati’s account with GH5.9 million, according to the report. The inquiries did not reveal the reason for the crediting of these funds to his account.

“A total of GH5.8 million had been credited to Salem Gharib’s Zenith Bank account without justification.”

“From the beginning, USC did not keep any financial records on which the investigation team could rely to determine whether the 2018 financial statement received by the team was overstated or understated.”

“The accounting firm K. Kye Accounting firm that prepared the 2018 financial statement of USC did not prepare it in line with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS),” according to the probe.

Again, the investigation discovered that the company was duly registered with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and owed SSNIT GH91,990.73 for the months of November and December 2018, as well as owing GRA GH684.81 million, exclusive of penalties, as of June 2021.

The total includes customs charges, corporate income tax, Value Added Tax (VAT), wage and salary income tax, often known as pay-as-you-go (PAYE), and withholding tax.

“The company had a bonded warehouse guarded by customs officials to ensure payment of necessary duties are paid before the goods leave the warehouse, USC, however, managed to get goods out of the warehouse without fulfilling its obligations.”

“Although the team was able to establish that the 2018 Financial Statement of US did not reflect the true state of affairs, it could not establish for a fact whether the expenses were overstated or revenue understated since there were no records to work with,” the findings of the inquiry showed.

No evidence

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice decided in their advice that there was no proof of money transferring directly from USC to Kwadwo Boachie Enterprise since all transactions between them were cash-based.

Since investigations were still underway, the A-G suggested that they be completed and a complete docket given to the A-G’s office for comments on the guilt or otherwise of any of the suspects in issue.

“However, it can be gleaned from the docket that your outfit has not made any conclusive findings on Frank Kwadwo Ofori, a 10 per cent shareholder in USC. 

“It is pertinent to note that unless there is direct evidence to prove that he was engaged in the day-to-day management of affairs of USC, he cannot be held liable for the tax evasion of the company. 

“In respect of the charges of money laundering and participating in organised crime, investigations revealed that neither him nor his company K-Ofori Limited have engaged in any form of money laundering and organised crime as there is no criminality in cash payments made by Frank Kwadwo Ofori through his company to USC for goods supplied to him,” the DPP noted. 

As a result, she determined that Mr Ofori could not be held accountable for any of the charges levelled against him, adding, “I therefore disrecommend his prosecution.”

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NAGRAT advocates for reconsideration of the Free SHS policy

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According to a research by Africa Education Watch, the average government spending on Senior High School (SHS) pupils between 2017/18 and 2021/22 academic years. The survey found that the government paid GH¢1,241 per student under the Free SHS regime, whereas parents spent GH¢4,185 annually throughout the same period. This underlined the government's policy issues, as its budget credibility rating steadily fell over the 2019/20 and 2021/22 academic years. Based on this backdrop, NAGRAT is certain that a review will alleviate the burden on parents.

The National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) has urged for a reconsideration of the policy so that parents who can afford it can pay their children’s tuition and other expenditures.

The Association feels that this will reduce part of the government’s burden.

According to research by Africa Education Watch, the average government spending on Senior High School (SHS) pupils between 2017/18 and 2021/22 academic years.

The survey found that the government paid GH¢1,241 per student under the Free SHS regime, whereas parents spent GH¢4,185 annually throughout the same period.

This underlined the government’s policy issues, as its budget credibility rating steadily fell over the 2019/20 and 2021/22 academic years.
Based on this backdrop, NAGRAT is certain that a review will alleviate the burden on parents.

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Chiefs stage demonstration against mining near Kwanyarko Water Works

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Local leaders led the community members in their intense opposition to the proposed mining project, citing probable environmental damage and the threat to their principal supply of water as grounds. Agona Kwanyarko is strongly reliant on the waterworks for clean and safe drinking water, and any disruption to its operation might have serious effects for the population.

Chiefs and villagers of Agona Kwanyarko, in the Central Region’s Agona East District, have taken to the streets to protest President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the Minerals Commission.

The rally is in response to the government’s stated plans to start mining near the Agona Kwanyarko water facilities.

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Local leaders led the community members in their intense opposition to the proposed mining project, citing probable environmental damage and the threat to their principal supply of water as grounds.

Agona Kwanyarko is strongly reliant on the waterworks for clean and safe drinking water, and any disruption to its operation might have serious effects on the population.

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During the demonstration, protestors held banners and chanted slogans protesting the government’s decision to allow mining near the waterworks.

They emphasised the importance of preserving their natural resources and demanded urgent action to prohibit any mining activity that threatened their access to pure water.

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NCA closes down four radio stations in Bawku

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The violence has resulted in the loss of life and property in Bawku and the neighbouring districts. Invoking its powers under Section 13(1)(e) of the Electronic Communications Act of 2008 (Act 775), the NCA justified the closure as necessary for national security and the public good. This clause gives the Authority the authority to suspend or revoke licences or frequency authorizations if it deems it necessary for national security or the public interest. In a statement, the NCA reiterated its commitment to working with key stakeholders and asked all parties concerned to carefully follow the rules and laws that govern the communications business.

The National Communications Authority (NCA) has shut down four FM radio stations in Bawku, Upper East Region.

The targeted stations, Bawku FM, Source FM, Zahra FM, and Gumah FM, were shuttered after Upper East Regional Security Council recommendations and Ministry of National Security instructions.

Concerns over the Radio Stations’ activities, as well as provocative statements made by its panellists and presenters, have reportedly contributed to the escalation of the Bawku violence.

The violence has resulted in the loss of life and property in Bawku and the neighbouring districts.

Invoking its powers under Section 13(1)(e) of the Electronic Communications Act of 2008 (Act 775), the NCA justified the closure as necessary for national security and the public good.

This clause gives the Authority the authority to suspend or revoke licences or frequency authorizations if it deems it necessary for national security or the public interest.

In a statement, the NCA reiterated its commitment to working with key stakeholders and asked all parties concerned to carefully follow the rules and laws that govern the communications business.

Click here to read the full statement

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