Couriers in use to smuggle out forex
The Dhaka airport authorities have seized Saudi riyals and Singapore dollars worth about Tk 12.5 crore from a Singapore-bound garment consignment, in a first such incident of smuggling of foreign currency in recent memory.
On Monday evening, the aviation security (Avsec) at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport recovered about 54.75 lakh Saudi riyals and 20,200 Singapore dollars from cartons that were by Star Express Line, a freighter company, for loading onto Singapore Airlines flight SQ-447.
The foreign notes were wrapped in carbon paper -- a common technique to dodge the gaze of the dual view x-ray machine, AHM Touhid-ul Ahsan, executive director of HSIA, told The Daily Star.
Gazi Qayyum, a member of Avsec, spotted suspicious components as the cartons were passing through the x-ray machine. He opened one of the cartons and found waist belts in them. Star Express Line did not mention waist belts in the declaration form.
The Avsec member then cut the belt and felt a hard object was stuffed inside it. When he pulled the object out, he found wads of Saudi riyals.
"And this was the beginning," Ahsan said.
By that time, some cartons of the consignment had already passed through the scanner machine.
Hasan Ali, a cargo supervisor of Best Kargo Kare, who came with the consignment for formalities, was interrogated and handed over to customs officials along with the currencies for the next step of action.
Hossain Mohammad Ershad, assistant revenue officer of Dhaka Customs House, filed a case with the Airport Police Station yesterday.
In the first information report, the custom mentioned that the Star Express line in their declaration gave the names of 23 individuals as senders of the goods.
Ershad brought a complaint against all the 23 and Ali.
The Daily Star tried to communicate with the Star Express Line but all the phone numbers were found invalid. Even the company website does not contain any valid information and is full of spam links.
Rubel Albert, customer manager at Network International Courier Service, the receiver of the consignment in Singapore, told The Daily Star that they receive consignments from Star Express Line regularly.
He declined to give details of the contents of the consignments to the correspondent. He recommended communicating with Network International Courier Service through the law enforcement agencies for details.
Probed about the repeated incidents of narcotics and goods smuggling via cargo, Ahsan said custom officials are assigned to check the cargo consignment before they are sent to the scanner at the HSIA for final checking.
"I think they [custom officials] should examine and check the contents of the cargo meticulously," he added.
Customs officials generally check only 2-5 percent of the cargo consignments meant for export on a random basis, said a high official of Dhaka Custom House on condition of anonymity.
"We sent several letters to the respective authorities of the government so that one official of Dhaka Custom House can remain present during the security check at the airport. But the airport authorities are not paying heed to our appeal," he said.