The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority has waged a war against clearing agents and unscrupulous individuals who clone and inflate GPHA invoices to defraud importers.
The vigilance of the Port Security has led to the arrest of 4 alleged fraudulent clearing agents who inflated GPHA invoices in order to extort monies from importers.
The culprits are contracted agents tasked by the Catholic Secretariat which is a self-declarant organization to clear goods on their behalf.
It emerged that the four culprits, without the knowledge of their employers, declared forged invoices to their customers and split the profits at the expense of the Port Authority and the Ghana Catholic Secretariat.
Their fraudulent activity was reported to have gone on for over a year with defrauded amount totaling GH¢20,000.
The Finance Manager of Tema Port, Tebon Zumah stated that the alleged fraudsters are to pay a penalty of GH¢60,000 as per GPHA policy.
“Once you engage in such fraudulent activity you are supposed to pay three times the defrauded amount. In this particular case, the total is GH¢20,000. So, we will multiply that by 3 and require them to pay,” he stated.
He lamented that the actions of the 4 arrested clearing agents go a long way to create the impression that the cost of doing business in Ghana’s Ports is expensive.
“The most important and critical issue is the effect that these things have on the port. It makes the port look very expensive which is not right,” he added.
Tebon Zumah revealed that GPHA is working assiduously on technical measures to create the atmosphere where customers of the Port have a very transparent access to clearance details to save them such undue cost and also protect the reputation of the Port Authority.
“We are looking at those alternatives to make sure that the consignees get involved, get access to the invoice so that if a clearing agent comes to tell you this is what I have printed from GPHA at least you can also verify,” he stated.
Tema Port Security Manager, Joseph Punamane hinted that the alleged fraudulent clearing agents will also be banned from working in the Port to serve as a deterrent to others.
“So what we are going to do is to hand them over to the police and also fine them as per the rules here,” he said.
This, according to him is required before prosecutorial measures at the police level would take place.