OSP’s Labianca report hollow & unconstitutional –Martin Amidu tackles successor
Former Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu has punched holes in the report issued by the Office of the Special Prosecutor on the Labianca case.
On August 8, 2022, the OSP published an investigative report which revealed that Labianca Group of Companies, a frozen foods company owned by a member of the Council of State, Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh, evaded import duties in excess of ¢1.074 million.
The OSP contended that Ms Asomah-Hinneh used her position as a member of the Council of State and member of the Board of Directors of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to get a favourable decision from the Customs Division.
In a sharp reaction to the report, former Attorney General Martin Amidu insists the Labianca report is hollow, without mandate and unconstitutional.
This, he explained, is because “the report seriously violates the statutory mandate of the OSP under the 1992 Constitution.” He said the report is also inconsistent with and contravenes Act 959 and the 1992 Constitution.
“The Report of Investigations into Alleged Commission of Corruption And Corruption-related offences involving Labianca Group of Companies and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority” dated 3 August 2022 and published on 8 August 2022 in the electronic media does not contain or disclose the authority or mandate of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Act, 2017 (Act 959) under which the report was written, and directives given for payment of “….an amount of One Million Seventy-Four Thousand Cedis (sic) Six Hundred and Twenty-Seven Cedis (sic) Fifteen Pesewas (GHC 1,074,627.15) representing
the short collection or shortfall of revenue arising from the issuance of the unlawful customs advance ruling …. into the Assets Recovery Account of the Office of the Special Prosecutor” and published for public consumption.”
According to him, “A critical reading of the report discloses that it was purportedly made in pursuance of the exercise of the investigatory functions of the OSP into corruption and corruption-related offences in accordance with the functions of the Office contained in section 3 of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Act, 2017 (Act (959) and Regulations 5, 6, and 7 of the Office of the Special Prosecutor (Operations) Regulations, 2018 (L. I. 2374) dealing with preliminary inquiry, investigation, full investigation, and investigation panels. These are the only provisions of the law governing the mandate of the Office referred to in the OSP report on the Labianca case as grounding the report.”
“The foregoing provisions of Act 959 and L. I. 2374 do not provide the OSP the authority or legal mandate to publish the result of the investigation panel’s work for the trial,” Mr Amidu noted.
Mr Amidu stated that the report “the OSP Labianca report does not disclose the commission of any corruption and corruption-related offences upon which the suspects or accused were cautioned or charged, if they were indeed cautioned or charged.”
He further added that the report is “Nonetheless a mere investigatory report which is an internal pre-trial documentary process under Section 3 of Act 959 and Regulations 5, 6, and 7 of L. I. 2374 dealing with preliminary inquiry, investigation, full investigation, and investigation panels has been unconstitutionally and unlawfully turned into a public report containing damning adverse findings of guilt in the court of public opinion against Ms. Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh, an elected Member of the Council of State and Board Member of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, the Deputy Commissioner for Customs, Mr. Joseph Adu Kyei, and the Commissioner for Customs, Colonel Kwadwo Damoah (Rtd.) who were each only invited as a witness to the OSP’s Labianca investigations”.