An apparel company has evaded Tk 57 lakh tax in allegedly connivance with customs officials in Chattogram by producing forged bank statements while getting its cargo released from the port, customs found.
Wasif Knit Composite Ltd paid only Tk 2,906, which is about 0.05 percent of what it was supposed to pay in duty and got away with the cargo.
As per customs documents, the company imported 24 tonnes of polyester fabric, which is duty-free, from China at the beginning of last year.
Being tipped off about some anomalies, customs officials took preparations to examine the cargo. As the importer did not appear within a deadline during a probe, the cargo became legally auctionable.
In August last year, the authorities examined the cargo and found 27 tonnes of curtain and chenille fabrics that are not duty-free. According to customs documents, Wasif Knit Composite submitted an application to take the goods after paying some demurrages in September last year.
Surprisingly, the auction officials ignored the taxable goods and issued in November a no-objection certificate for the release of the cargo.
By the end of last year, the importer received the goods after paying Tk 2,906 in tax and an additional Tk 2.16 lakh in demurrages. According to customs documents, Oxford Shipping Ltd was the clearing and forwarding agency that received the consignment on behalf of the importer.
This correspondent found that there was no office of the agency in Dewan Haat area of the port city, where the agency is based on, as per customs document.
Shafiqul Kausar, managing director of Oxford Shipping Ltd, told The Daily Star that he had closed the business after incurring losses. He added that the products were released after they were examined by customs officials.
Requesting anonymity, an official of the assessment section said, “The consignment was examined and sealed. But a few days later, the auction section hid the examinations report and issued the NOC to the cargo.” “After releasing the goods, all related documents were removed from the file,” he said.
Almost all high officials of customs were informed about the forgery, but they had not taken any measure, he added.
Customs Commissioner M Fakhrul Alam said, “I don’t know about it since it has taken place much before I joined the Chattogram Customs.
A probe body will now be formed to find whether the allegation is true and to identify the officials behind it. Actions will be taken if anybody is found to be guilty.”