The Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID) yesterday arrested a realtor from the capital’s Bijoynagar in connection with the laundering of Tk 1,197 crore through import of alcohol, cigarettes, photocopier machines and various consumer goods using false declaration and fake addresses.
The arrestees are Managing Director of Mirror Development Ltd Didarul Alam Titu and his associate Kabir Hossain, said detectives, adding that they, along with others, imported the high-tariff items by declaring those as poultry feed machinery.
The import was done through three firms -- M/S Agro BD & JP, M/S Henan, Anhui Agro LC and Hebra Banco.
These were opened using falsified documents and fake addresses.
The arrest comes after customs detectives last month filed 25 cases with Paltan police station against the three firms on allegations of laundering Tk 431 crore, Tk 439 crore and Tk 290 crore.
Titu and Kabir were accused in 15 of those cases, said CIID in a press release yesterday.
Customs House Chattogram also filed a case against Kabir Hossain in August this year, alleging his involvement in laundering Tk 8.36 crore.
In a press briefing yesterday afternoon, CIID Director General Shahidul Islam said the anomalies surfaced after customs detected 12 import containers with high-duty items, which were brought using fake documents and addresses.
Later, it was found that 121 containers were brought illegally.
Shahidul said they also had information on more such containers which were brought through unlawful means.
“We are probing it and we hope to get more information if we interrogate the accused. This is an organised group who have been importing valuable items for a long time through false declaration and duty evasion”, he said.
Shahidul said Titu was the “mastermind” behind the operation and Kabir helped him prepare the false documents.
“We are trying to arrest other accused,” he said.
Customs detectives earlier unearthed a scheme by the syndicate, where they would import consumer goods in the name of capital machinery which have only one percent import tariff, much lower than the import duty on consumer goods.
The goods were allegedly imported from China, according to the CIID.
Shahidul added that the CIID had so far filed 78 cases related to laundering of Tk 3,200 crore.
Of the cases, the Criminal Investigation Department had been requested to probe 21, including the one related to the release of 22 consignments by illegally using IDs and passwords of two revenue officials to log into the Automated System for Customs Data World, an integrated customs management system.
The CIID is inquiring into the remaining cases.
The Daily Star called the offices of Mirror Development Ltd, but the number was found to be vacant.