The fact that a gang comprising clearing and forwarding (C&F) agents and importers have been able to clear some 4,000 consignments using forged documents over a two-year period is a shocking exposure of the systemic flaw of the Chittagong port's Customs House. A report in this daily published on January 17 tells us that Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID) officials recently unearthed the racket and have identified a number of gang members, including a C&F agent. This incidence needs to be thoroughly investigated for a number of reasons. First, the ID card of a customs official who retired in 2015 was used to unlock a consignment from the CIID computer server. How is this even possible? That ID should have been deactivated the moment the individual left the service.
Second, that so many thousands of shipments got through the Chittagong port illegally could pose a threat to national security. No one can vouch that contraband and dangerous items did not get through the port in the process. What would be the security ramifications of such a breach? These are pertinent questions, not just for CIID but law enforcement agencies as well. Third, we are informed that the CIID has formed a committee to thoroughly investigate the matter. Our opinion is that this gang could not have operated under the radar for so long without help from the inside. Given the gravity of the situation, the authorities should leave no stone unturned to find out precisely who the members of this criminal syndicate are, which parties have benefitted from this very illegal activity, and precisely how much revenue the national exchequer has been deprived of.