Managing Director of the La Bianca Company Limited, Etse Gadegbeku, has denied all allegations of tax evasion on import duties and its associated revenue loss to the State, levelled against his company by a Ghanaian citizen, one Fred Asare.
La Bianca Company Limited is believed to be owned by a member of the 8th Council State, Eunice Jacqueline Buah.
Tax Evasion Denial
Etse Gadegbeku, in an exclusive interview with Asaaseradio.com, indicated that the petition filed against his company forms part of the plan of their competitors to play dirty as the yuletide approaches.
“We operate in a highly competitive environment and I strongly believe these are bad tactics by our competitors to smear the image of the company and the CEO Hon. Eunice Buah Asomah Hinneh, to gain advantage for the upcoming busy Christmas season. This is the latest move after all attempts by them had failed.” Gadegbeku said.
“We strongly deny the allegation of corruption and import duties evasion. Labianca company went through all the legal and proper application process before the discount was given. The substance of their petition does not deny the practice of applying for discount and failed to address the valuable contributions that the company is making to the society as an indigenous Ghanaian business led by a woman”.
“Hon. Eunice Buah, the CEO of the company did not at any point in the process, influence the decision because of her status as a Council of State representative” he added.
According to Mr. Etse Gadegbeku, Madam Eunice Buah Asomah Hinneh, previously served on the board of Ghana Ports and Habours Authority (GPHA). However, she is no longer a member of the GPHA board as alleged by petitioner Fred Asare. Furthermore GPHA has no control over the activities of custom.
In a petition dated the 16th of November 2021 and addressed to the Special Prosecutor, Kissi Adjabeng, the complaint (Fred Asare), is a citizen of Ghana who is committed to ensuring good governance and accountability on the part of state institutions with the aim of optimizing revenue mobilization for national development.
He contends in his petition that “La Bianca Company Limited purportedly applied to the Commissioner, Custom Division, on 21st October, 2021 for consideration on custom import values for certain products it had imported into the country”.
“Pursuant to the said application, the Deputy Commissioner, Operations, Custom Division, by a letter dated 26th October, 2021 purportedly granted a 10% mark down of the approved benchmark values for imported frozen foods from 26th October, 2021 to 31st December, 2021”.
“In the said letter, the Deputy Commissioner, Operations, Custom Division, cited section 12 of the Customs Act, 2015 (Act 891) as the basis of the discount of the 10% markdown he granted the company” Fred Asare stated in his petition.
“The Complainant, Fred Asare further claims in his petition that “Section 12 of the Customs Act, 2015 (Act 891) deals with the subject matter of “Advance Ruling” and does not support the grant of 10%-mark down given to the company by customs given the nature and content of the application in issue”.
Claim of Arbitrary Wavier
To this end, Fred Asare says in his petition that “grant of the 10% markdown on legally prescribed benchmark values to the La Bianca was done arbitrarily with this known process” and that “the grant of the 10%-mark down is illegal as same is contrary to section 12 of the Customs Act, 2015 (Act 891) and the long-standing practices of the Ghana Revenue Authority”.
“The approved 10% mark down to La Bianca Company Limited was done in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner with intent to unduly favour La Bianca Company Limited over its business competitors” the petition read.
Call for SP Action
The Petitioner concludes his petition by stating that “if the Office of the Special Prosecutor does not intervene, the La Bianca Company and the Custom Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority will continue to perpetuate this illegality leading to more revenue losses to the state and the collapse of the local poultry industry and the businesses of their competitors in the imported frozen food industry”.