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Labianca case: Special Prosecutor rejects court verdict

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The Accra high court has quashed adverse findings in the report of the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) on 3 August 2022 against the former commissioner for the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Col Kwadwo Damoah (rtd), and his deputy Joseph Adu-Kyei in the Labianca case.

The court on Monday (27 November) concluded that, the OSP is not a court of competent jurisdiction or a commission of enquiry to make adverse findings and prohibited the anti-graft body from further investigating Damoah and Adu-Kyei in respect of the adverse findings.

Reacting to the ruling, the OSP said it “rejects the decision of the court in its entirety.”

Explaining, the OSP said in arriving at the findings of the matter, the body 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,” the statement added.

“Further, 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,” the statement said.

The Office of the Special Prosecutor released a report on its investigations into alleged corruption and corruption-related offences involving the Labianca Group of Companies and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority in August last year.

The OSP’s report implicated officials of Labianca and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority for their various roles, which saw the company that deals in the importation of frozen foods benefit from a reduction in the company’s tax liabilities.

One of the names mentioned by the OSP is Col Damoah (Rtd), who was then the Commissioner of the Customs Division of the GRA. The OSP’s investigations also found that a Deputy Commissioner of the Customs Division of the GRA, Joseph Adu Kyei, issued an unlawful customs advance ruling for importation made by Labianca.

The ruling was said to have been approved by Colonel Damoah (Rtd) and did not appear to have been brought to the attention of the Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority.

Colonel Damoah fought back, accusing the OSP of targeting his person in an attempt to bring him down. He intimated that the report was hollow and actuated by malice.

The Commissioner and his Deputy, feeling dissatisfied, asked the High Court to quash the adverse findings made against them by the OSP through a judicial review.

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