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Kennedy Agyapong drags Obinim to EOCO over GH¢1.6m tax

The woes of embattled pastor Daniel Obinim, founder and leader of International God’s Way Church (IGWC), do not appear to be over as the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) chases him to pay about GH¢1.6 million in taxes to the state.

As if that is not enough, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin Central, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, who has launched a crusade to expose fake pastors and claims Bishop Obinim is one of them, has reported him to the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) for the anti-graft body to investigate him over alleged money laundering and other related crimes.

Already, Bishop Obinim is before the Kaneshie District Magistrate Court in Accra charged with publication of false news, as well as forgery of a document contrary to Sections 208 and 159 of the Criminal and other Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), for which he was in police custody for about three nights.

Bishop Obinim, who claims to be an angel of God and has been frequenting heaven, was granted bail by the Kaneshie Magistrate Court in Accra last week in the sum of GH¢100,000 with three sureties, one to be justified but was not able to extricate the bail bond on time and had to remain in cells until last Friday when he finally walked home.

It was Bishop Obinim who caused his lawyers last year to sue the GRA and Fidelity Bank over what he called an unlawful placement of a lien on his Fidelity Bank account.

The GRA garnished Bishop Obinim’s account due to his alleged non-payment of rent taxes on a block of 21 units of a shop situated in Tema, which he uses as a guest house.

Bishop Obinim sought reliefs including “a declaration that the plaintiff has paid all taxes due and demanded by the defendant (GRA) from the plaintiff in respect to rents taxes payable on the 21 shops for the period of 2014 to 2018 and that he does not owe in taxes, the sum of GH¢769,095.87 purportedly representing rent taxes payable on the 21-block.”

He also sought “an order to set aside and/or strike out the Garnishment Notice issued at 10 am, June 27, 2019, by the Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority; the first defendant herein, directed at the second defendant (Fidelity Bank) to pay to the first defendant the sum of GH¢769,095.87 as being unlawful,” and asked for a further order for a perpetual injunction to restrain the bank from placing a lien on his account and withdrawals to the GRA.

Love Letter

It all started when the GRA, on December 18, 2018, wrote to Bishop Obinim to demand payment of alleged tax liability in the sum of GH¢719,890.

The said amount of GH¢28,990, according to the GRA, represented rent taxes for the period of 2014 to 2018 on a block of 21 units of a shop situated in Tema and owned by Bishop Obinim and the remaining GH¢690,900, the GRA said, represented total Value Added Tax (VAT) charged for the period January 1, 2016, to July 31, 2018, from the business operations of Abroso Guest House Limited, a separate Limited Liability corporate entity which was not under the management of Bishop Obinim.

Bishop Obinim, in his statement of claim, averred that prior to the issuance of the GRA demand letter, the GRA, with a request from the EOCO, conducted audit and assessment on him in respect of the same rents taxes payable on the same block of 21 units of shops and the guest house to ascertain the accuracy and reliability of his tax returns.

He said in the statement of claim that the GRA concluded that his tax liability for the period of 2014 to 2018 in respect of rents from the block of 21 units of shops was the sum of GH¢39,555 and that the Abroso Guest House was a separate entity not under the direct control of Bishop Obinim.

Payments Made

He subsequently submitted that as far as he was concerned, payment of all outstanding rent taxes owed and due that had been made, and the GRA receipts numbering nine had been issued to them accordingly.

Fresh Court Ruling

On May 13, 2020, an Accra High Court, presided by Justice Doreen G. Boakye-Agyei, dismissed Bishop Obinim’s application that was challenging the GRA’s decision to ask him to settle a tax liability of GH¢1,591,797.50.

According to the court, the GRA followed due process in determining and notifying Bishop Obinim about his tax liabilities and that Obinim had not followed a laid-down procedure to make his objections to be given a hearing as required by law.

“He cannot use his failure as a ground to seek judicial review. This instant case is not a proper and appropriate case for the court to exercise its powers of judicial review,” Justice Boakye-Agyei stated.

Sources close to Bishop Obinim are saying that he intends to instruct his lawyers to challenge the decision because as far as he is concerned, he paid his taxes to the State.

 

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