Food and Drug Department Director refutes Superfood boss’ claims

– alleges forged signature, corruption by businessman

The threat of legal action made by local businessman Rafik Ahmad of Superfood Inc against the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department (GAF&D), may very well be a lost cause, as the organiastion on Tuesday refuted the claims made by the Ruimveldt, Greater Georgetown businessman.

Government Analyst Food and Drug Department Director, Marlon Cole
Government Analyst Food and Drug Department Director, Marlon Cole

GAF&D Director Marlon Cole on Tuesday gave the organsiation’s side of the matter, which he said is currently before the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

The claims made by the businessman through his lawyer Anil Nandlall is that the Food and Drug Department has been preventing him from uplifting a container of tinned milk which came into the country several months ago.

According to Ahmad, this is the first time something like this has happened, and he has ordered through his lawyer that the items, which will reach expiry date in less than four months, be released.

But Cole speaking to Guyana Times said since the arrival of the item in December 2015, Customs for the entry reached his office in early February this year. He said a number of discrepancies were found, including the recognition of his forged signature.

It was also found that while Ahmad had recorded the item in the container as powdered milk, it was in fact a sweetened condensed milk.

“My forged signature was used to clear the confinement and at the time it was recorded full cream milk, which is [Value Added Tax] VAT exempted from tax, imported by Superfood Inc by Rafeek Ahmad”.

He said it was Customs that recognised the unusual signature and alerted the Department.

“When we looked at the signature, we recognised that it was unusual. We then sent for the document at Customs; however, before the Department received it, it was intercepted by a staff. It was then realised that the staff may have been in collusion with the Customs broker and the importer,” Cole told Guyana Times.

He said the Police was called in, the staff was placed on bail, the importer was charged and the matter is currently before the court.

According to the Director, the Department was seeking to gain access to the full cream milk, because there were reports of substandard milk being imported by Ahmad.

“We had wanted to retrieve a sample of the milk, but when we got to the container, it was not a container of full cream milk, but of Moee condensed milk. We then wrote the Customs Department on March 29. Since the February 8, we trying to get to examine the container and get a sample of the milk. We were only able to examine the container on March 24.”

Cole further related that the importer was supposed to be charged by the Guyana Revenue Authority for false declaration, but he couldn’t say why Ahmad has not yet been charged.

He said when it was realized that the contents of the container were condensed milk, it was stamped “entry refused” in March. “We found that it is milk filled with vegetable fat and is being sold as regular standardised milk. So Customs received the entry and the item was changed to condensed milk. The importer had to pay $1.5 million in duty. It was presented to the Department, and was again stamped “refused entry” because it was filled with vegetable fat instead of animal fat.”

He said Customs was informed of the reason why the milk was refused entry – it bore the forged signature of the Director. Ahmad later went to the Department, demanding the document, but was informed that he could not get such. Cole added that Nandlall subsequently wrote the Separtment, stating that it has had the document for over a month and asked that it be immediately released.