A gang of smugglers has become active at Chattogram port during this nationwide coronavirus crisis. They are stealing goods from containers and also releasing undeclared goods at the port.
Chattagram customs discovered three such incidents last week.
Sources from the customs department said that the smuggler gang has become active in this Covid-19 situation.
This is nothing new because goods from container often disappear, and goods that have not been declared are often found. The gang always seeks opportunities to continue its activities, added the sources.
Earlier, between July 2016 to July 2018, goods from 295 containers - imported from different countries - disappeared at Chattogram port.
The importers did not submit any bill of entries against the containers at Chattogram customs, and the issue created a stir at a high level of the government.
"The smugglers are always seeking oppertunities. Three such incidents have been identified in the last one week. A special team is investigating if any such incidents are taking place during this coronavirus crisis," said Mohammad Fakhrul Alam, commissioner of Chattogram Customs House.
On May 3, another syndicate released a consignment of 26,300 kg fabrics from Chattogram port without paying tax.
In this incident, the authorities have identified the importer Kims Fashion of Dhaka, and RM Associates of Chattogram as the C&F Agent.
Two separate probe committees have been formed to look into the matter. Major Rezaul Haque is leading the committee from the port authorities while Shamsuz Zaman, additional commissioner of Chattorgam customs is leading the committee from the customs department.
Major Rezaul Haque said that the probe committees are trying to identify the people who are smuggling the goods out and evading tax.
Meanwhile, Siam Enterprise of Dhaka imported Lactogen (baby food) from Malaysia through Chattogram port. But the company declared that it is importing olives and peanuts.
Chattogram C&F Agent Khan Enterprise tried to release this consignment. But the customs department, on April 28, figured out the false declaration after physical testing.
The company tried to evade tax worth Tk60 lakh.
On April 30, a similar incident took place at Chattogram port. Siam Trading, an importer based in Dhaka, imported Lactogen from Malaysia declaring that it is importing diapers.
No C&F agent submitted a bill of entry to release the consignment. And the importer tried to evade tax of around Tk20 lakh.
Sources at the Chattogram customs department said that among the goods imported, five percent is examined, 20 percent is directly delivered, 30 percent is scanned and 30 percent is examined while unloading.
"We lock any consignment if there are undeclared goods. Then we run a physical examination. And it is around one percent of the entire imported goods," said Nur E Hasna Sanjida Anusua, assistant commissioner of Investigation and Research Unit of Chattogram Custom.
The customs department has also suspended the licenses of 31 C&F Agents on charges of evading tax, cheating through the use of IDs and passwords of importers.