ANN has been reliably informed that there is currently an investigation ongoing into the fleecing of millions of dollars from the Treasury via the Customs and Excise Department in Kingstown.
Our source claims that senior customs officers are among persons “assisting” this bombshell
The source, who spoke exclusively to ANN, on condition of anonymity, claims both senior and junior staffers had been fleecing the Treasury over period of time.
The source informed that, in some instances, business entities which should have been paying thousands of dollars in import duties, ended up paying as little as $800.00 to the Treasury.
This practice, our source claims, has been ongoing “for years” and opined that it is particularly vexing that while big businesses have been getting away with this unethical practice, the small man is made to pay duties as stipulated by law.
The source said that this practice has been going on for years and while these big businesses have been getting away with these handouts the average citizen is being pressured into paying the duties as stipulated by law.
“While the customs would meet its yearly mandate they can do much better if the officers who are involved with these big businesses charged them the duties that they should be charged,” the source said.
During our conversation several businesses were named which supposedly benefit from the “generosity” of the officers. Unsurprisingly when ANN contacted several of the businesses mentioned reactions ranged from refusal to comment to outright denial of the existence of any such practices.
Allegedly, there are instances where business places that should be spending thousands of
dollars in customs duties, end up paying around EC$800.
Some businesses which import tyres and vehicle parts and whose owners are close to senior members of the customs. There are others who it is believed also have shares in some of these companies’ and which containers don’t get examined because they are green lanes.
The Green lane in customs means ‘Any consignment not selected by red lane, yellow lane or blue lane, is sent to the “Green Lane”. This means that once a customer has paid the relevant duties and taxes, your goods are immediately released without the need for any type of inspection. Yellow lane is for documentary check only.
Red lane physical check/inspections before release
The source said that this practice has been ongoing on for years and while these big
businesses have been getting away with these handouts the average citizen is being pressured by these officers.
The source went on to tell ANN that the ring is far-reaching and involves officers at every
department in the customs.
“While the customs would meet its yearly mandate, they can do much better if the officers who are involved with these big businesses charged them the duties that they should be charged,”the source said.
When we contacted the Acting Comptroller of Customs Selwyn Dasilva on the alleged investigation being carried out he denied knowledge of it saying “ It’s always the negative things media house are quick to report on, the customs just celebrated world customs day and not one media house
carried the Comptroller’s message.”
He said the work of the risk management unit was doing good and proper investigative work that led to the closure of several businesses because of false invoicing .
ANN understands that one business had submitted false invoices to the customs in 2022 and upon further investigations by the department, the said company owed the customs millions of dollars in duty through false involving .
The company eventually filed for bankruptcy and was sold and rebranded .
Asked about some of the allegations leveled at the department l, the Comptroller told ANN “the way the customs system is set up it is impossible for a business that is supposed to pay thousands of dollars would end up paying around $800.
“The customs or any officer don’t decide how much an individual pays. Th system is set,
everything is by the books ” the acting comptroller said
He further explained that Everything valuation is by the CIF (cost, insurance and freight) system so all these allegations are completely false.
On the question of investigations on members of the customs department, the Comptroller said knows nothing about any investigation going on. He said the customs for 2022 went over their target by over 5 million dollars in 2022.
All these allegations are from disgruntled workers who don’t want adhere to the mandates of the management the Acting Comptroller told ANN
This is a developing story which ANN will continue to follow and update as more details come to hand.