Elephant in the Room: GRA’s statement on Safaritech only begs the question

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Elephant
Elephant

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has on August 3, 2023 issued a press release to All News Editors trying to explain the “due diligence” it did in engaging Safaritech Ghana Limited for some forensic audit job on telcos in Ghana. We beg to say that the entire press release begs the question in so many ways, and provides zero answers to the actual questions being asked of the GRA.

Safaritech Ghana Limited was the company that did a forensic audit on MTN Ghana and claimed that MTN hid 30% revenue from government between 2014 and 2018. On the basis of that audit, MTN was slapped with a back tax of GHS8.2 billion plus. But the back tax has since been withdrawn, after Techfocus24 exposed who Safaritech really is in a series of very revealing articles.

We hereby reproduce GRA’s press release verbatim, with portions highlighted in red for your particular attention, as they form part of our analysis.

For Immediate Release

ENGAGEMENT OF SAFARITECH GHANA LIMITED- GRA CARRIED OUT DUE DILIGENCE

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has taken notice of various media discussions on its engagement of Safaritech Ghana Limited and wishes to clarify issues for the information of the general public, especially its esteemed stakeholders.

To begin with, the Authority in executing its mandate as a public service organization, carries out due diligence, particularly when engaging the services of third parties to assist in mobilizing revenue.

In the specific case of Safaritech Ghana Limited, (SGL) GRA took reasonable and appropriate steps to satisfy all legal requirements to procure the services of SGL to carry out forensic audits on telecommunication companies in Ghana among other services.

GRA further sought the necessary buy-in and acceptance of its Top management and Board of directors before obtaining approval from the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) to use the single-source procurement method for the engagement of SGL in accordance with Section 40 (1) (a) of the Public Procurement Act 2003, (Act 663) as amended.

Subsequently, a contract for the determination and assessment of tax revenue for telecommunication companies in Ghana was signed between GRA and SGL on 17th July, 2018 and not in 2020 as was reported by some sections of the media.

The Authority affirms that SGL which is a limited liability company duly incorporated under the Ghana Companies Act, 1963 (Act 179) and has a registered office at 1 Kanda Link, Accra, has satisfactorily executed its duties in collaboration with GRA officials since the contract was signed in 2018.

It must be noted that the Authority has not signed any contract with Safaritech UK, and has no business dealings with that entity.

GRA uses this opportunity to assure the general public that as a trusted public service institution, it operates under the Government Public Procurement procedures and guidelines and thus remains committed to ensuring that it obtains value for money in procuring and utilizing the services of third-party organizations.

–End–

FLORENCE ASANTE (MRS.)

ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER –

COMMUNICATION & PUBLIC AFFAIRS

Lets begin from the top:

Discussions in sections of the media 

GRA is fully aware which media platform has been championing this crusade for  accountability around Safaritech Ghana Limited. They have actually engaged Techfocus24 and we have sent out a questionnaire to them on the matter way back on June 27, 2023. In fact the questionnaire was sent to the same person who signed this press release, Florence Asante at her own request.

For some reason, GRA has ignored the critical questions in that questionnaire and is rather pretending to address some media discussion on the procurement of the services of Safaritech Ghana Limited. The question has never been about due diligence on procurement procedures, but due diligence on Safaritech Ghana Limited itself.

But let’s analyse the GRA’s statement within the context of the other facts they have intentionally avoided.

Single Sourcing/telecoms companies

GRA is admitting to the public that Safaritech Ghana Limited was given an exclusive opportunity to take the forensic audit job on telecom companies in Ghana in 2018. This means they may have worked on more than just MTN Ghana. GRA needs to provide more details on which other telcos were audited by Safaritech Ghana Limited and what were the outcomes of all those jobs.

Satisfactory

Speaking of work done, GRA says Safaritech Ghana Limited executed their work satisfactorily. So, on what basis was the GHS8.2 billion back tax on MTN withdrawn?

Ghana is in dire need of money, and tax evasion is a crime. So, if an audit has satisfactorily found information that puts GHS8.2 billion into the national kitty, why would the tax collector just withdraw the tax without any explanation to Ghanaians?

  • Did MTN hide revenue from government or not?
  • If Safaritech did a satisfactory job on MTN, why has GRA allowed GHS8.2 billion to just go down the drain while the economy is bleeding?

Secondly, if the work of Safaritech Ghana Limited was “satisfactory” as GRA stated, it means they were paid for the work done. How much did their work cost the taxpayer, and what benefits did Ghana derive of their “satisfactory” work, given that the back tax slapped on MTN, for instance, has been withdrawn?

Safaritech UK

Again, GRA claims their contract was with Safaritech Ghana Limited and had nothing to do with “Safaritech UK”.

It is rather ironic that the heading of GRA’s press release used the term “Due Diligence”. It is either GRA is being dishonest in their press release or they simply did not do due diligence on Safaritech Ghana Limited itself.

Picture !: Safaritech Ghana Limited street address and links to Safaritech Kenya Limited, headquartered in the UK
Picture !: Safaritech Ghana Limited street address and links to Safaritech Kenya Limited, headquartered in the UK

If GRA did its due diligence, they would have realised the following without stress:

  • There is no company called Safaritech UK. There is Safaritech Limited, incorporated in the UK.
  • On the deleted website of Safaritech Ghana Limited (www.safaritech.biz), the company itself claimed that they are a SUBSIDIARY of Safaritech Kenya Limited, with headquarters in the UK. So Safaritech Ghana Limited itself admits there is a link between them and Safaritech Limited in the UK.
  • Further Due Diligence by GRA would have revealed to them that Andy Chege, who was named in the documents presented by Safaritech Ghana Limited to the GRA for the contract, is the same Andy Chege named as the only director of Safaritech Limited when it was incorporated in the UK on June 20, 2016. It is the same Andy Chege who is also CEO of 192G (also deleted), which shares same street address with Safaritech Ghana Limited at Kanda in Ghana and claims to do similar jobs like Safaritech.
  • That Safaritech Kenya Limited, of which Safaritech Ghana Limited claimed to be a subsidiary, is registered in Kenya as a company in GENERAL BUSINESS (see Picture 2 below) and nothing to do with all the claims Safaritech Ghana Limited made about itself on their defunct Ghana website.

Picture 2: Safaritech Ghana Limited’s mother company, Safaritech Kenya Limited, is a company in General Business, nothing about forensic audit or telecoms revenue assurance
Picture 2: Safaritech Ghana Limited’s mother company, Safaritech Kenya Limited, is a company in General Business, nothing about forensic audit or telecoms revenue assurance

Street Address

GRA claims that the street address of Safaritech Ghana Limited is 1 Kanda Link. But on their own deleted website, Safaritech Ghana Limited stated their street address as E68/9B Ablade Close, Kanda, (check Picture 1 above), which Techfocus24 found to be a ladies’ boutique.

So if Safaritech stated 1 Kanda Link in the documents presented to GRA, what due diligence did GRA do on that to even ensure they had the staff and capacity to deliver on their job?

In any case, since Techfocus24 started publishing information about Safaritech Ghana Limited, they have deleted their website with all the wild claims about their pedigree, and have moved location to a place that looks like an abandoned house at Spintex. So much for due diligence by GRA.

London street addresses

Speaking of changing street addresses, it is the stock in trade of Safaritech. Even in London, where they claim to be headquartered, they changed street address at least three times between the June 20, 2016, where they were incorporated and March 16, 2021 when they were dissolved. Again, Techfocus24 investigations revealed Safaritech never kept an office at any of those London addresses – they were just virtual addresses the company used to outwit regulators.

It is also important to note that from the time of its incorporation to dissolution, the headquarters office of Safaritech Ghana Limited in the UK kept only £100 (GHS1,416) in their bank account, which was declared dormant way back in July 2017.

More claims by Safaritech Ghana Limited 

It will also be interesting to find out what due diligence GRA did on Safaritech Ghana Limited’s claims of having over 20 years experience in telecoms revenue assurance, tax audit, forensic audit among other such stuff; and also its claim to be a base for the IMF, World Bank, USAID, UNDP, GTZ, ATRN and others.

Safaritech Ghana Limited themselves have deleted their website that had all those “wild” claims and there is now no evidence anywhere to support those claims. So, the only thing left is GRA’s claim that it did due diligence in securing the services of Safaritech Ghana  Limited. GRA must therefore tell us how it satisfied itself that Safaritech Ghana Limited had the competences and the experience in the kind of work GRA gave to them. Indeed, GRA is now seeking to delink Safaritech Ghana from its roots (Safaritech Kenya Limited, headquartered in the UK). So, what is Safaritech Ghana Limited’s own pedigree? Ghanaians need to know.

Let me conclude by saying that it is fast beginning to look like Safaritech Ghana Limited was imposed on GRA by some persons with vested interest. So, all this claims about due diligence, satisfying the procurement laws on single sourcing, and Safaritech having done a satisfactory job is nothing more than a hogwash and weak attempt to justify why a rogue entity like Safaritech Ghana Limited, the subsidiary of dodgy Safaritech Kenya Limited, with a dissolved headquarters in the UK, was engaged and paid with taxpayer money to use some voodoo methodology for a supposed audit, which is nothing more than the usual create, loot and share enterprise.

We leave it here for now, as we wait for some more real answers from GRA. Meanwhile, Parliament is also waiting for answers from GRA.

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