The businessman is said to have paid the huge amount of money to the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) in the form of bankers’ drafts, which were issued in the names of MBG Ltd and Holman Brothers respectively – companies of which he is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Customs Division of the GRA has not publicly commented on the issue, but DAILY GUIDE has seen two Stanbic Bank drafts purportedly issued by Ibrahim to clear his debt, which remained outstanding until the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) stepped in to investigate the issues.
It is not clear who leaked the two Stanbic Bank drafts to the social media platforms, but the transaction details showed they were both issued on May 4, 2017 at the Tema Industrial Area Branch.
On the first draft, it reads, “Pay Ghana Revenue Authority or order Ten Million, Two Hundred and Sixteen Thousand, Two Hundred and Fifty-Eight cedis, Forty-Seven Pesewas only (10,216,258.47) B/O MGB Limited,” while the other draft reads, “Pay Ghana Revenue Authority or order Two Million, One Hundred and Seventy Thousand, Five Hundred and Forty-Four Ghana Cedis Sixty-One Pesewas only (2,176,544.61) B/O Holman Brothers Gh. Ltd.”
Ibrahim, who is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Engineers & Planners (E&P), had been given a two-week ultimatum by EOCO to pay all the debt or face sanctions. Many observers have concluded that he was never going to pay the huge debt if his brother had remained president.
Last month the businessman was put at the centre of a headline-grabbing import scandal when the anti-graft investigative body invited him for questioning.
He was invited for purportedly issuing post-dated cheques totaling 46 in 2015 to the Customs Division, being duties for import of equipment, but which turned out to be dud or bounced cheques, according to EOCO.
Even though the cheques were dishonoured, it is believed that he succeeded in clearing the goods because of his powerful connection to the seat of power then.
Curious minds had said that if the New Patriotic Party (NPP) had not won last year’s elections, the money involved would not have been paid since it dates back two years ago and GRA was not in a hurry to collect it because his brother was the president.
It has been said that only the Commander Customs Division, an Assistant Commissioner, can authorize the release of goods at the point of entry – the Port of Tema – in the case under review based on approved conditions.
Customs officials, by their operations, are said not to handle cash and the importer is mandated to pay through the two approved banks, ECOBANK and the GCB Bank.
In the case where a company or an individual wants to make payments through cheques, they must hold accounts with the two banks – ECOBANK or the GCB Bank – so that a quick verification of the status of the accounts can be ascertained and a decision taken.
Duty on goods must have been paid to trigger the paper processing by Customs officers or specifically, the Compliance Officer, before the goods are released.
In the ensuing confusion, EOCO invited Customs to explain why they appeared to have breached their standards in favour of Ibrahim, but an Assistant Commissioner for Communication of GRA, Robert Mensah, later said the ex-president’s brother had a settlement arrangement with the Customs since December 2016, but failed to honour that pact from February 2017.
He said the GRA got alarmed when the cheques were taken to the banks only to be told that the “accounts were closed.”
“An agreement was made to pay GH¢800,000 per month… payment made so far falls short of that commitment. Within the next two weeks the two companies should make good all the indebtedness of GH¢10,409,492.86 million,” he added.
Just last week, the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) dragged Ibrahim and other managers of E&P to court for the non-payment of their workers’ pension contributions.
A demand notice prepared by SSNIT to Ibrahim and the others on March 1, 2017 showed that the total contribution due E&P was GH¢1,601,051.78, with a penalty of GH¢1,322,161.45 and the notice had also put the total indebtedness to GH¢2,723,213.32, with GH¢200,000.00 as less payment.
Ibrahim later announced that the company had settled in full the outstanding amount owed SSNIT.
DAILY GUIDE learnt that upon summons to appear in court on Saturday, April 29, Ibrahim quickly rushed to the Kokomlemle Office of SSNIT on Friday to settle the debt which had been hanging for several months before the court case.
By William Yaw Owusu