June 14, 2024
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SML owes GRA GH¢31.88m in taxes – KPMG Report

The full KPMG report released by President Akufo-Addo on Wednesday, May 22, has revealed that Strategic Mobilisation Ghana Limited (SML) is indebted to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to the tune of GH¢ 31.88 million for unpaid taxes spanning eight months of service provision. 

This outstanding amount also includes accrued interest, estimated at GH¢ 18.50 million as of January 31, 2024.

According to the report by the renowned accounting and advisory firm, SML has failed to fulfill its statutory obligations by neglecting to file its tax returns or remit the owed taxes to the GRA.

This deviation from standard practice occurred between June 1, 2020, and August 31, 2023, during which the GRA typically deducts taxes for payments made to SML.

The reputable audit firm further highlighted that it has alerted the GRA to this discrepancy, prompting the Authority to issue a letter to SML demanding payment. 

Despite this intervention, SML has yet to address its outstanding tax liabilities to the GRA.

“During the period from 1 September 2020 to 30 April 2021, a bulk payment to SML covering invoices for an eight (8) month period, did not have VAT and WHT deductions, amounting to GH¢13.38 million. This contradicts GRA’s standard practice of deducting such taxes for payments to SML between 1 June 2020 and 31 August 2023.”

“Additionally, SML failed to fulfil its statutory obligations by neither filing returns nor remitting these taxes to GRA. Pursuant to Section 71(1) of the RA Act, the accrued interest on the tax liability is estimated at GH¢18.50 million owed by SML to GRA as of 31 January 2024. Consequently, the total liability incurred by SML amounts to GH¢31.88 million.”

“At the time of our review, we noticed the discrepancy and informed GRA, leading to their subsequent communication with SML, demanding a settlement of the outstanding amount,” an excerpt of the report said on page 14.

Following an investigation by The Fourth Estate, which uncovered numerous irregularities in the contracts between Strategic Mobilisation Limited (SML), the Ministry of Finance, and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), President Akufo-Addo instructed KPMG to conduct a comprehensive audit. 

The investigation revealed discrepancies in SML’s claims regarding its services aimed at tackling revenue losses in the downstream petroleum sector.

Despite SML’s assertions that its services were effectively addressing under-declaration, dilution, and diversion of petroleum products, evidence presented by The Fourth Estate showed that these functions were being carried out by other companies and the National Petroleum Authority (NPA). 

Managing Director of SML, Christian Tetteh Sottie admitted to the inaccuracies and promptly removed the false claims from the company’s website.

Despite these revelations and other admitted falsehoods, Minister of Finance Ken Ofori-Atta initiated a process in 2023 to expand SML’s contracts to include the gold and oil producing sectors. This decision significantly increased the annual contract sum to over $100 million.

Following the investigation by The Fourth Estate and subsequent public outcry, President Akufo-Addo suspended the contracts and commissioned KPMG to conduct an audit and submit a report. 

While the president released a press statement regarding the findings, the full report provides even more damning revelations about SML’s operations within its contracts with the Ministry of Finance and the GRA.

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