It is reported that, Ghana has lost a whooping sum of money from non-repatriation of proceeds made on the export of about $2.3 billion worth of gold.

The proceeds from the gold exports were not repatriated, thus, “enriching unscrupulous foreign gold dealers, mainly Indians and Chinese, and their Ghanaian collaborators” in the process.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC), Kojo Opare Hammond confirmed the report last week stating that, “US$2.3billion worth of gold was shipped through PMMC and none of the money that was earned was returned into the country as required by law” he stressed.

In the wake of this news, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) has revoked the export license of the PMMC, a company that exports gold and other minerals.

This has been confirmed by Mr Hammond last week.

“As at now, we are not doing shipping of Gold. Even with our diamond which we do not have any problems with, most of the time I have to really go and plead with them (BoG) to allow us to move. In fact, Bank of Ghana is really upset with this situation that we came to find ourselves in. But as we speak now, PMMC cannot export goods because of what happened previously” Mr. Hammond said.

He noted that, investigations are being conducted by the CID.

“This issue actually came up at one of the meetings we held with the Minister of Finance and he immediately asked the CID to take over and begin investigations into this and that is what is ongoing now”.

The Bank of Ghana in 2016 announced PMMC as the sole exporter of gold.

PMMC is a limited liability company operating under the Companies’ code, with the Government of Ghana as the sole shareholder.

Meanwhile, a tax expert, Ali Nakyea, has called for those responsible for the loss of revenue to the country to be named and punished.

According to Ali Nakyea, anyone found to have been involved in the scam, should be sanctioned, and that efforts should be made to recover the lost funds.

“Illicit financial flow is not only the trade mis-pricing, bribery and corruption is also one. If you bring in items valued at one million and falsify the documents to read 300, 000, we are losing a tax element there. This is why the paperless system is welcome because you can’t falsify a document as there aren’t documents,” he said.

“We have to make sure that any person found culpable does not stay in there. I believe in finding where the loss is, recovering the money and punishing the person. We need to recover first before we punish. We should just name and shame. We need to name, recover and punish; and these three make it shameful.”

“The various causes of illicit financial flow, trade mis-pricing, bribery and corruption and transfer pricing, are areas we should pay attention to so that we get enough to ensure that our tax system works…If the report is now out, I will be interested in how they can follow up and make sure we receive these monies. If indeed the gold moved out then we should get the compensation and the payment. ”

Ali Nakyea expressed his frustration with the apparent lack of records detailing the country’s gold exports.

He insisted that Ghana may not have applied for a bailout from the IMF had the proceeds from the exports been repatriated, potentially making Ghana a net-creditor.

“I’m not surprised about the amount because it was published on the front page of the Daily Graphic that the Swiss Government indicated that they imported GHC2 billion worth of gold from Ghana in 2016. My question at the time was, what is the record of receipt in Bank of Ghana and the record of export of gold with the Minerals Commission. We need to get these institutions to liaise and reconcile their figures,” he said.

“My other worry is, we have a trade attaché in our mission to Switzerland, what is he also checking and reporting back to us? Institutionally, we need to collaborate and check our records. If there are illicit flows, we’ll see clearly that with what we are losing, if accounted for, we don’t need to borrow. If we are going out for $938m over a three year period [from IMF] and we are losing billions in a year, then we [could have been] net creditors and we didn’t need to borrow.”

The Association of Gold Exporters of Ghana (AGEG), had earlier asked the BoG to rescind appointing the PMMC as the certifier for gold exports.

They argued that the PMMC was involved in dubious business deals including money laundering by Indians and Chinese with help of some managers of PMMC.

Mr. Nakyea was of the view that the country’s export earnings should be enough to stop the government from borrowing.

“If there are illicit flows, you will see clearly that what we are losing if accounted for we are net creditors. We don’t need to borrow” he exclaimed.

-Adnan Adams Mohammed

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