Friday, May 9, 2008

Why did the GRA not proceed with prosecution?

Why did the GRA not proceed with prosecution?
Stabroek News letter. Thursday 8 May 2008

Dear Editor,
In January of this year, investigators of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) swooped down on a bond in the city and discovered Polar Beer which they suspected to have been smuggled.
One month later, and after intensive investigations including perusal of the bill books of the company owning the bond, the Guyana Revenue Authority instituted 22 charges against the company and one of its principals. The charges were in relation to the dealing with uncustomed goods with intent to defraud the GRA of duties thereupon.
Understandably, these charges could not proceed since the company at the centre of the investigations approached the high court through an ex-parte application and was successful in securing an order nisi preventing the GRA from sealing the bond, interfering with its contents or instituting any form of prosecution until the matter was concluded. The court has since made absolute the orders in relation to the sealing of the bond and its contents but has discharged the injunction preventing the GRA from proceeding with prosecution.
Why therefore if for over one month there was no legal impediment to the GRA instituting charges, did the GRA, which had already filed charges against the company concerned and one of its principals, not proceed with the prosecution?
The GRA had estimated based on the investigations done that it was owed some $325M. This would mean that if it was successful in its prosecution it stood to benefit from taxes not just from this sum but from penalties which could amount to over one billion dollars.
Why is it that instead of moving ahead with the charges, the GRA has inverted its position whereby the officers of the GRA, including some of those that investigated this very case, now find themselves under investigation for having colluded in allowing beer to be passed as aerated drinks? What could have triggered this reversal by the Guyana Revenue Authority?
Let it be recalled that it was officers of the Guyana Revenue Authority that stumbled upon the multi-million dollar remigration scam. Let it be recalled that despite that scam having caused the GRA to lose hundreds of millions of dollars, not one person who enjoyed the bogus duty free concessions was ever charged and most of the vehicles that were the subject of the bogus duty free concessions are still today on our roads. Yours faithfully,
Rajin Ratnamala

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