By BARNEY ORERE PONDROS
A MAN from Rigo in Central province is on the run after Customs uncovered a fraud involving millions of kina against a company and the State.
Customs Commissioner Gary Juffa said: “We are hot on his heels. The suspect had posed as a licenced Customs agent.”
“We are investigating the fraud and we will urge the company to report the case to the police.
“Other companies, importing or exporting goods, are warned to be wary of the bogus agent.”
It is understood that Customs are keen to conduct post clearance audits on the company to check all their imports over the last five years.
The fraud took place between December 2007 and September 2008 when the company engaged the bogus agent’s firm to do Customs clearance for eleven of its imports.
Payments made to the bogus agent’s firm by the company totalled K1,648, 664.78 based on invoices.
“What is amazing is that the bogus agent had no fixed address, no office and no employees but he managed to secure business from such a reputable company and secured payment from the company for Customs clearance,” Mr Juffa said.
Customs directors Francis Nipuru and Moses Teng, who were involved in the probe, said the bogus agent had tampered with genuine import documents produced to him and came up with very low invoice values.
It was understood that the company engaged five different licensed Customs agents to prepare Customs clearance paper work.
In the event that unfolded, the bogus agent collected the stated amounts in full from the company and he paid only K76,008.78 to Customs based on his tempered invoices and a total of K1,572,656 was used privately.
The amount of duty that was to be paid to Customs was K1,228,500.62 and the remaining K298,156 was an overcharge included in invoices to the company.
Customs said the company did not have any official Customs duty
payment receipts in their files as is required under Customs laws.
It was learnt that the company had paid about K192,000 and was served bills for the outstanding amount.
Mr Juffa said the company’s management had cooperated fully with his investigators and he was satisfied that collaborations would lead to the apprehension of all persons involved in the case.
He urged the public, including airlines and shipping firms to come forward with information leading to the arrest of the bogus agent.
He said his directors Mr Nipuru and Mr Teng will be available and can be contacted on 72975856, 76810735, 76642994 or 3226804.