A scandal involving the clearance of some items suspected to be cocaine and concealed in a consignment of sugar worth $3 million has rocked the Port of Tema and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
The complex web of conspiracy allegedly involves top officials of Customs and Tema Port officials.
The 136,000 bags of sugar, which had overstayed their two-week grace period at the port, were eventually confiscated – a development which paved the way for some officials to connive to have it diverted for individual gains.
Yaya Kachie, the consignee of the sugar in transit, must count himself lucky, having succeeded in clearing the contraband stuff but abandoning the sugar destined for Niger and originating from Mexico.
Corruption and rot at the Port of Tema can be measured by such malpractices involving the top echelons of relevant state agencies as being unfurled in this story.
It has also emerged that details of only 16,000 bags of sugar were fed into the GCNet system, a situation which facilitated the ploy of the brains behind the aborted efforts to divert the confiscated consignment.
Yaya Kachie’s primary objective was the smuggling of the drug and that achieved, abandoned the sugar as it was of insignificant importance to him.
Fingered in the scandal are customs officials, one of them a Commissioner and Sector Commander, and data entry clerks who made the entry into the GCNet system.
The investigation team probing the issue is said to be baffled about how transit goods could remain at Tema for over a year, beyond the two-week grace period, and discharged here anyway.
Regarding the suspected contraband stuff contained in the transit goods, the shipping agency (name withheld) may face the law when the investigations are completed, DAILY GUIDE has learnt.
Matters regarding the confiscated sugar have taken another turn as ten persons have laid claim to the consignment, with a certain Samuel Ackah, an Accra-based businessman, topping the list.
He is being thwarted, however, by a top government official at the Flagstaff House who, it is suspected, wants it diverted to another person for personal gain.
Mr Ackah, when contacted on the issue, presented another chapter on the subject.
According to him, Sucursal Uy, a Uruguay-based company, shipped 6,800 metric tonnes of Mexican sugar worth $3,910,000 to Tema upon his request and the consignee being Yaya Kachie of Niger – the man who asked him to do the transaction.
When the sugar landed, according to him, an European broker said to be a French national, Philippe Benhas, came to Ghana to hold a meeting “with me but I had travelled to Kenya on a business trip. During his visit my office staff were on holidays because it was a festive season.”
Continuing, he said that his guest became worried about his absence and his inability to communicate and so decided to contact the French Embassy in Accra for assistance. The mission introduced him to Map Shipping Agency to bond the consignment of sugar – a request which was obliged and the consignment kept in Warehouse No. 72 at Tema, he added.
“I contacted them to explain how my buyer, Yaya Kachie, wanted the sugar to reach Niger before he did the payment,” adding that “I see that as a breach of trust, so I explained to them again that it will be better if we do an amendment to the bill of lading into my company’s name, Kairaba Holdings Ltd, but the shipping company refused and asked them to take money before instructing them to release it.”
Continuing, he said “I had done amendment on two occasions (i.e. before releasing for me to load). It was to my surprise that on 24th August, 2014 Customs issued a memorandum seizing the sugar which is on transit, when taxes had been evaded.”