The National Board of Revenue yesterday directed all customs houses to prevent entry of casino equipment into the country.
The directive came amid law enforcement agencies’ ongoing drive against illegal casinos and gambling, and seizure of casino equipment from some renowned sporting clubs in the capital.
The Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID) has begun inquiring as to how the items of gambling, which is prohibited by the Public-Gambling Act-1867, got into the country.
And the CIID, under the NBR, has so far found that 20 importers imported 28 consignments of casino items that include casino chips, casino coins, roulette tables, roulette sets, and poker tables between 2016 and 2019, using the gap between the Import Policy Order (IPO) and the gambling law.
The 152-year-old public-gambling law prohibits gambling, and the constitution assigned the state to “adopt effective measures to prevent prostitution and gambling”. Yet the IPO 2015-18 does not restrict imports of casino items.
In a letter to the commerce secretary yesterday, NBR Chairman Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said legal complexities were arising as imports of casino items were not prohibited in the IPO.
The NBR requested the commerce ministry to take immediate measures to restrict imports of casino equipment in the forthcoming IPO.
In its directives to the customs offices, the NBR said it found through inquiry that gambling items were imported and cleared for release by various customs stations.
It said the decision of banning import of the equipment was at the commerce ministry’s consideration and directed the customs offices to be vigilant so that no casino equipment gets clearance for entry into the country.
The NBR also asked the customs houses to ensure proper examination of consignment named video games, consoles and machines, articles of funfair, table or parlour games, pintables, billiards, special tables for casino games, and automatic bowling alley equipment.
With the revenue authority restricting clearance of gambling equipment from ports, CIID is raiding various places to identify the people involved in the import and use of the equipment.
Yesterday, CIID found machines for playing Mahjong, a game developed in China, at New Dragon Chinese Restaurant in the capital’s Banani.
It found that seven sets of Mahjong machines were brought into the country in July last year by Nenad Trade International, said a CIID press release.
It said there was a scope for using the Mahjong machine, seized from the restaurant, for gambling. The items were imported through false declaration of value of the imported goods, CIID added.
The value of the seven sets was shown only Tk 47,815 in import documents, but an inquiry by the CIID revealed that prices of each set is Tk 2.50 lakh, it said, adding that efforts were underway to detect other such machines.
Before raiding New Dragon Restaurant, CIID conducted drives in four more organisations in the last couple of days.
SHAMIM ON FRESH REMAND
Meanwhile, a Dhaka court yesterday placed Golam Kibria Shamim, popularly known as GK Shamim, a top government-listed contractor, on a nine-day fresh remand in connection with two cases.
During yesterday’s hearing, Shamim felt pain in the chest. Following the court order, he took medicine and recovered soon.
Five days’ remand prayer was granted in the money laundering case and four days in an arms case. Both the cases were filed with Gulshan Police Station.
The court granted the remand after two investigation officers of the cases -- CID’s Senior Assistant Superintendent of Police Abu Sayeed and Rab Sub-Inspector Shekhor Chandra Bonik -- produced Shamim before the court with a 10-day and seven-day remand prayers.
On September 26, Shamim and his bodyguards were shown arrested in a money laundering case.
On September 20, Rab arrested Shamim and his seven bodyguards after raiding his house and office in the capital’s Niketan.
Rab members also seized eight firearms, a huge amount of ammunition, fixed deposit receipt (FDR) worth Tk 165 crore, around Tk 1.8 crore in cash, a large stash of US and Singaporean dollars and some foreign liquor.
The next day, Shamim was placed on a 10-day remand in cases lodged under the arms and narcotics control acts.