Minister denies car stealing story (Tueday Dec 15) Back page

A Deputy Minister of Information, Mr James Agyenim-Boateng, has denied allegations that certain government officials wanted to steal a Chrysler Aspen vehicle that was confiscated at the Tema Port.
“That allegation is not true but rather a calculated attempt to injure the reputation of the persons involved,” Mr Agyenim-Boateng said, adding that “the personalities involved did not put up any fraudulent conduct to warrant the speculation”.
Mr Agyenim-Boateng, who was briefing journalists after inspecting 20 stolen and confiscated vehicles parked at the State House Workshop, said a letter authorising the movement of the vehicle in question was signed by the office of State Protocol Vehicle Allocation and copied to the Director-General of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GHAPOHA), Custom Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) and others on November 30, 2009 to facilitate the movement of the car from the Golden Jubilee Terminal at Tema to the State Protocol Car Park in Accra.
He said it was during the process that it was realised the car was without keys and also had ignition problems and explained that in order to fix the problem, the car was towed to a location at Asylum Down in Accra.
According to him, the 20 vehicles parked at the workshop, which were of different makes, including BMW, Lexus, Jaguar, Acura, Toyota Corolla, Ford buses, Nissan four-wheel drives and Range Rovers, were said to have been stolen from North America.
He stated that INTERPOL in 2008 declared Ghana as the number one recipient of stolen vehicles from the Americas because 30 per cent of the stolen vehicles made their way to the country. He said in order to clamp down on the menace, INTERPOL mounted an operation code-named ‘Operation Semta’ in the country in July, 2008, in which 20 vehicles in addition to the 20 parked on the premises of the National Security were seized.
He said the need for the inspection was necessary following media speculations that the vehicles were being distributed to members of the government.
He said contrary to speculations, the government was dealing with the issues of the cars in a transparent manner.
He said when such vehicles were impounded, the government notified the governments of the countries of origin of the vehicles and the decision to keep or send them back was then communicated to the Government of Ghana.
He said when the vehicles were confirmed to be kept by Ghana, they were vested in the name of State Protocol and when they were to be returned to their countries of origin, the Government of Ghana facilitated the process.
He said the government was putting strategies in place in order not to make car stealing lucrative for the syndicates behind the act.
Mr Agyenim-Boateng said even though criminal proceedings were on-going, the difficulty was that most of the cars were sold to third parties.

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