Financial Statement Falsified, Tax Clearance Certificate Cooked
…as Gov’t Turns Blind Eye to GHC3m Tax Liability of The Company
As it increasingly becomes apparent that the contract that the New Patriotic Party government awarded Vokacom Softworks, to build a digital address system for the country was a sweetheart deal, a dirty little secret of the company has blossomed up.
The Republic has picked up that Vokacom, is a recent mutation from an entity that operated shadily in the past, evading taxes as part of a mean streak.
Audit documents available to the Republic reveals that the same company, forged evidence to obtain a tax clearance certificate to enable it land the $2.5million (Ghc9.99million) contract to build the controversial Ghana Post GPS which has already betrayed many faults.
Investigations by this paper has also led to interesting revelation that Nana Osei Afrifa, the CEO of Vokacom softworks, is also behind Vokacom Realty, a Real Estate company that has suddenly mushroomed this year, 2017.
In spite of its short lifespan Vokacom Realty has already been listed on the government of Ghana’s official trade portal, ghanatrade.gov.gh.
Vokacom Softworks Limited is a metamorphosis of a company called ‘VasMol Enterprise’. VasMol first went into business in 2012, an election year in which then Candidate Nana Akufo-Addo had been very hopeful of unseating then President John Mahama.
VasMol had remained an enterprise until the next election year in 2016 when it had registered as a limited liability company – Vokacom Limited.
When Vokacom had operated as VasMol, it had not filed any tax statements with the Ghana Revenue Authority, which means within that four year period, it had not paid VAT. The same company had not paid Social Security deductions for its workers.
Sources tell The Republic that Vasmol (Vokacom) owes the government of Ghana close to three million Ghana cedis (Ghc3000000) in tax money that it ought to have paid between 2012 and 2016. And this amount is separate from penalties, including surcharges and possible criminal prosecution, for the tax evasion.
However, without settling these accounts, Vasmol managed to change into Limited liability company, Vokacom, in 2016, and has since landed the Ghc9.99million GoG contract to build the controversial digital address system app for Ghana Post.
Before it would get the contract, Vokacom’s alleged tax evading past had become a hurdle that it needed to scale. Under the laws of Ghana, a company can only get a contract from the government only after it has obtained a tax clearance certificate from the GRA.
The tax clearance certificate is testament to the fact that the company has a track record and has been faithfully filing its tax returns. Vokacom from its days as Vasmol Enterprise had not been filing these taxes.
Indeed according to sources, there is no source document whatsoever to show that Vokacom, while operating as VasMol, had filed these taxes. In order to get the tax clearance certificate therefore, Vokacom allegedly had to cook statement of accounts which filing is prerequisite to obtaining tax clearance to continue operating as a legitimate business.
According to sources, the company whose CEO allegedly contributed $500,000 to the election campaign of President Akufo-Addo had been aided by the GRA itself to pull the paper trail from the air.
In this regard, Vokacom’s application for tax clearance certificate had been given “special attention” by the GRA, with the auditing of the company allegedly safeguarded by the powers that be to avoid professional scrutiny of GRA officials..
It has also been said that there was a mighty hurry at the GRA to help Vokacom get the tax clearance certificate to enable it land the contract, leading to lapses in the tax filing paper trail that had been conjured for it.
The Republic has seen a copy of the document and can report that in a trail of tax liabilities that Vokacom is supposed to have paid between 2012 and 2016, there are no calculations on penalties on unpaid VAT, Corporate Tax and SSNIT as required by law in spite of a clear violation of the Company’s Act.
It is also said that in the audit with the GRA, Vokacom had not revealed its bank account details, a thing that is crucially needed to assess the revenue and expenditure flows of a company seeking a government contract.
Under the ‘Company’s law of Ghana’, the Commissioner General is clothed with the authority to obtain a court order to compel companies to reveal their bank account details where the company fails to voluntarily submit them in their annual statement, however, in the case of Vokacom, the Commissioner is said to have waived his obligation.
Indeed the company’s representatives alleged to have told the auditors in the face that they would not submit their bank details.
The cumulative picture that has emerged about the GRA’s issuance of tax clearance certificate to Vokacom to enable it land the $2.5million contract, therefore, is that the GRA had aided Vokacom to shadily obtain a tax clearance certificate to enable it land a government contract.
In doing so, the GRA had allegedly acted together with it to forge evidence that Vokacom, while operating as VasMol, had paid taxes even though the company had not paid any taxes.
Nana Osei Afrifa, the CEO of Vokacom, is said to be a buddy of the President who had contributed $500,000 to Akufo-Addo’s election campaign.
The digital address system that Vokacom has built for Ghana, the Ghana Post GPS, has been widely condemned by experts as substandard. The app is also widely regarded as a shortchange because the system is based on the Google Map which already exists on most android phones for free.
In a last week attempt to justify the payment of a whopping Ghc9.99million to Vokacom to basically leverage the Google Map app, the Managing Director of Ghana Post, James Kwofie, had announced that some of the money had been spent on obtaining a license from Google.
The man also announced that by leveraging Google, Ghana had committed to the yearly payment of $400,000 (some Ghc1.7million) for copy right.
Many have wondered why the government would pay Vokacom to $2.5million to leverage Google Map for Ghana when Ghana could have gone straight to Google to negotiate a deal.
Even so, the confirmation that indeed the Ghana Post GPS app is really based on the Google Map has made nonsense of grandiloquent claims by Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, during the launch of the app, that it was so advanced that rival apps being used in the US and the UK were comparatively primitive.
Meanwhile, The Republic has been finding out that Vokacom Softoworks Limited has a subsidiary of sorts, Vokacom Realty, which deals in real estate. Interesting, Vokacom Realty became a company this year, 2017.
According to the Number 7, Sorghum Street, address of the company, its contact man is one Andy Asare Bediako. This Andy guy is believed to be related to Nana Asare Bediako, the ruling NPP’s Constituency Chairman for Asokwa.
Despite its short lifespan, Vokacom Realty has already been listed on the GoG’s official trading portal, ghanatrad.gov.com.
Tongues are wagging in town, that Vokacom Realty, just like Vokacom Softworks Limited, have all of a sudden mushroomed under the Presidency of Akufo-Addo because the NPP government has juicy contracts to bestow.
Nana Osei Afrifa, the CEO of Vokacom is said to have been a financier of the 2016 election campaign of President Akufo-Addo.
He is alleged to have donated a whopping $500,000 as had many of the businesses which recent contract with government have left a trail for suspicion of underhand dealings..
Sources:therepublicnewsonline /Fiifi Samuels