POST TIME: 10 September, 2016 00:00 00 AM
Chittagong C&F agent ‘defrauds’ Customs 17 times
Shamsuddin Illius, Ctg

Chittagong C&F agent ‘defrauds’ Customs 17 times

The Customs authorities in Chittagong have failed to take action against a C&F agent for allegedly evading payment of revenues amounting to Tk. 1 crore in the past 11 months.
In fact, the errant agent, SN Trade Limited, was found to have indulged in the alleged fraud 17 times from October 2015 to August 2016, Customs sources said.
According to C&F rules, the licence of a C&F agent should be cancelled if it was found to be involved in evading payment of revenue or other fraud. But strangely, the Customs authorities did not take any such initiative against SN Trade Limited despite its repeated dodges, the sources added.
Apparently emboldened with the reported laxity of the authorities, the C&F agent is now allegedly planning to evade paying revenue for three more consignments of bicycles.
The non-action against the erring agent has also flummoxed top customs officials. “I think the agent’s licence should be cancelled if it has engaged in repeated fraudulence and that too for 17 times. But first, I need to check whether it has actually happened or not. If found true, I will need to check why the license was not cancelled,” Chittagong Customs commissioner AFM Abdullah Khan told The Independent.
As for the latest case involving the three consignments of bicycles, Customs sources said the agent had submitted the bill of entry for the shipments for Tk. 1.25 crore in last week of July, but it has not still released the goods as yet.
The sources suspect that the company was once again planning to release the goods by evading revenue as in the past.
Customs officials said their suspicion of wrongdoing was raised when the C&F agent did not cooperate with them for the physical examination of the consignments. This made them to place the three consignments under special surveillance.
“We have informed the matter to the National Board of Revenue (NBR). An NBR representative will be present during the physical examination of the three consignments. It will be done after Eid-ul-Azha,” the Chittagong Customs commissioner said.
According to Customs officials, a certain “Beauty Cycle Store” of Nilpamari had imported two consignments worth Tk. 1.10 crore from India in the last week of July.
To release the goods, SN Trade Limited submitted bill of entry Nos. 903064 and 893278 on July 27 along with Al Falah Islami Bank’s Letter of Credit (L/C) Nos. 0000107816010134 and 0000107816010135.  Another importer named “Raju Cycle Store” of Nilpamari had imported a consignment with bill of entry No. 893278 and the L/C No. 0000107816010134 of Al Arafa Islami Bank. SN Trade Limited was the C&F agent tasked with releasing the three consignments. According to Customs officials, they have information that

the importers of the three consignments were waiting for the release of the brought goods out of declaration.
So, the Customs authorities on August 29 issued a letter (No.453/AP/Section-9, B/2016-16) to the C&F agent to be present for the physical examination of the three consignments. But the C&F allegedly did not cooperate by doing so. The customs authorities again issued a letter (No.452/AP/section-B, B/2016-17) to the defaulter on August 30.
Managing director of SN Trade Limited, Saiful Islam, denied any wrongdoing. “I did not evade paying revenue. It was done by the importers. My duty is to clear the goods,” he told The Independent.  “Though we have paid all our dues, there is a particular Customs official who has held the consignments illegally,” he added.
As per the previous allegations against SN Trade Limited, the Customs authorities on June 13 found the C&F agent had evaded revenue for a consignment of fabrics vide bill of entry No. 615108. Then customs realized the dodged revenue and fined the agent Tk. 40, 000. That same month, another case of fraudulence was detected against the C&F agent while clearing an inner diameter bill of entry No. 680114, and it was fined Tk. 8 lakh.
In June, two more consignments vide bills of entry Nos.615598 and 717496 were found to have evaded revenue. Customs realised the evaded revenue and fined the agent Tk. 3.25lakh. The C&F agent was allegedly involved in evading revenue and fraudulence in seven more consignments vide bills of entry Nos.1300587, 40221, 468741, 469274, 555319, 744773 and 940042.
The Customs fined SN Trade Limited Tk. 6.1lakh and realised the money with the evaded revenue.
In October, November and December in 2015, the Customs found out six more incidents of evading revenue vide bills of entry Nos.1035095, 1036009, 1038827, 1251133, 555355 and 813601. The customs realised the evaded revenue and fined the agent Tk. 9.86 lakh.
“If fraudulence was proved, there is provision for cancelling license. If a C&F agent is engaged in serious fraudulence, its licence should be cancelled permanently. For lighter cases of infringement, however, the licence can be cancelled temporary,” said Mohammad Rezaual Haque, joint commissioner of Chittagong Customs.