Hippo Limited refutes GRA’s GHc1.3 bn tax default claim

A now-defunct consumer goods company, Hippo Limited, has refuted claims by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), that it has defaulted in the payment of taxes to the tune of GH¢1,361,546,803.56.

The position of Hippo Limited was made known in a press release dated October 31, 2022, issued by the management of Hippo Limited, a defunct member of the Hippo Group of Companies, a wholly Ghanaian-owned holdings company, formed in 2008 with Hippo Limited, the parent company, originally established in 1983.

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“The attention of Hippo Limited has been drawn to a notice by the Ghana Revenue Authority published in the Business and Financial Times on 26th October 2022, alleging amongst others that, Hippo Limited has defaulted in the payment of taxes to the tune of GH¢1,361,546,803.56.”

“We wish to bring to the attention of the general public that not only is the said notice false, but it is also misleading and malicious. Contrary to the notice by GRA, Hippo Limited successfully contested the assessment in 2017 in the High Court, Accra,” the Hippo Limited statement read.

High Court decision

The press release further noted that “For the avoidance of doubt, Hippo Limited hereby publishes the conclusions of the High Court judgment dated 22nd May 2020 to enable the public appreciate the truth or otherwise of the status of the matter.”

The judgement was in respect of an application invoking the Judicial Review jurisdiction of the High Court in the case of Hippo Limited and the Commissioner General, Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

The Court held as follows; “Consequently, the Application for Judicial Review filed by the Applicant is hereby granted in part as is the request of the Respondent as contained in paragraph 12 of its affidavit in response to the Application, and the Court hereby enters the following orders:

“It is hereby ordered that the tax assessment carried out by the Respondent entitling the Respondent to recover the sum of One billion, three hundred and sixty-two million four hundred and eight thousand, six hundred Ghana Cedis and ninety Pesewas (GHc1,362,408,600.90) as the tax liability of the Applicant dated 27th August 2018 is accordingly set aside, as well as all the execution processes founded thereon.

“It is further ordered that the Applicant make available to the Respondent, within thirty (30) days from the date of this order, all relevant documents Applicant seeks to rely on in proof of its objection to the assessed tax liability for the Respondent to carry out another assessment of the Applicant’s tax liability.

“Upon receipt of the documentation of the Applicant, the Respondent is to complete the reassessment of the tax liability of the Applicant within two (2) weeks therefrom and serve its decision on the Applicant.

“It is further ordered that should the Applicant fail to so comply with the Order to furnish its documentation to the Respondent and in the time frame therein specified, the Respondent is at liberty to carry out the reassessment without the input of the Applicant.

“It is ordered, finally, that as the Applicant is not in active operation, its warehouse remain closed for the period of this reassessment exercise,” the judgement of the court read.

In-action of GRA

Subsequent to the orders of the Court, Hippo Limited says it has submitted all the relevant documents, and audited account statements amongst others to GRA.

However, to date, GRA has not done anything about the situation but continues to create the erroneous impressions that Hippo Limited owes taxes.

Be that as it may, Hippo Limited’s contention is that, it is impossible for the GRA to allege that they have failed to pay taxes when it operated under the bonded warehouse scheme which is managed and controlled by officers of GRA directly.

Bad faith

Hippo Limited, therefore, noted that in view of the court’s decision, it “wishes to put on record that GRA has not complied with the orders of the High Court and, therefore, its notice is not only unlawful but in clear breach of the orders of the Court.”

“Hippo Limited is not indebted to GRA and the said notice should be discarded as same was published in bad faith to dent the hard-earned reputation of the Company and its named directors,” the management of Hippo Limited stated in their press release.