Customs investigating biggest swindling case in its history

Customs investigating biggest swindling case in its history

he Maldives Customs Service has launched an investigation, in cooperation with the Maldives Police Service, into an a swindling case where a large amount of goods were released from Customs without any duty being paid for it. Customs officials on Thursday said that it was the biggest swindling case in its history.

Speaking at a press briefing, Mariyam Nihaayath of the Customs Intelligence Investigation Division said that the ‘robbery’ had been committed by a company called Bonanza Enterprises and that they had swindled Customs out of a large amount of money in unpaid duty. She further said that the company had been doing so for the past five years. However, she did not reveal the exact amount the company now owed Customs, citing that the investigation was still ongoing.

Nihaayath said that Bonanza Enterprises was a cargo clearance agent, which required them to fill out Customs forms and make payments on their clients' behalf. She said that as a clearing agent it was Bonanza’s responsibility to get their clients’ imported cargo cleared from Customs, pay the duty charges and handover the goods to the clients. The company had cheated the seven companies that were its clients, Nihaayath said.

The scam had finally been discovered when one of Bonanza’s clients had submitted some documents to get a refund for duty paid on a shipment. There had been some discrepancies between the client’s submitted documents and the records kept with Customs, Nihaayath said. She further said that two senior officials from Bonanza, Abdulla Salah and Hussain Mohamed Manik, along with two other staff from the company had been arrested by the Police in connection to the case. However everyone except Hussain Mohamed Manik had been later released under some conditions.

Nihaayath also revealed that while the investigation into the inconsistencies with the documents had been ongoing they had also discovered that the company had illegally imported a lot of goods into the country, including several alcohol shipments, without paying the duty.

Customs officials said that during the investigation conducted with the assistance of the Maldives Police Service, they had confiscated several Customs documents from the company’s offices and also found a bottle of alcohol. The company had paid only a very small amount of the total that was owed to Customs and had forged many official documents to keep the clients in the dark, the Customs official said.

Nihaayath said that Bonanza had mostly cleared cargo for resorts and that so far the investigation had not found any Customs officials were involved in the scam.

Source: Haveeru

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