Foreigner faces bribery charges

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday 24th January 2012

AN Asian businessman has been charged with one count of bribery after he allegedly tried to offer cash to two Customs officials confiscating illegal items on his property.
Caretaker Customs Commissioner John Pomoso said a joint police and customs operation on three Asian-owned businesses in Lae discovered undervaluation of goods, false declaration, illegal medicines, pirated CDs and pornographic materials.
Pomoso said items of interest to the investigations were confiscated.
“Confiscated items included importation documents, CDs and DVDs, several of which were pornographic in nature, laptops, medicines, flash drives, memory cards and motorcycles,” Pomoso said.
The confiscated medicine has been given to the Health Department to administer.
The confiscated importation documents showed some of the businesses had been producing and presenting to Customs duplicate invoices with lower values to avoid paying the correct duties.
Records showed that the confiscated motorcycles had initially been imported as toys. Flash drives and memory cards were used to store local music.
Customs officers believe that they were being used to download and sell pirate copies to people.
Pomoso also said that two foreigners had been found to have overstayed their visas.
He said they would be interviewed, arrested and charged under immigration laws.
“Customs takes these breaches very seriously and we are intent on pursuing these cases until the offenders are prosecuted because their illegal activities are causing PNG to miss out on thousands of kina in potential revenue,” Pomoso said.
“There are many more businesses in the country that are not operating honestly. Anyone with information on such businesses must contact Customs immediately. 
“I commend my officers who continue to work hard to produce excellent results.
“My officers continue to show discipline, professionalism and respect for the Customs code of ethics and conduct because two officers were offered bribes but refused during the operation.
“The owner of one of the suspected businesses was arrested and charged with that offence. His bail was set at K5,000.
“Tougher laws must be put in place to immediately deport foreign business owners who show no respect for our laws and deliberately engage in illegal business activities.
“Following their deportation, all of their assets should be forfeited to the State.”
“We cannot just stand by and watch as PNG’s laws get breached over and over again by individuals who know they will get off lightly.
“We have to act, and we have to act now. Customs is here to protect the interests of the people of Papua New Guinea and legitimate businesses.”