Chattogram customs found only half a tonne of goods in a shipment for 22 tonnes of goods booked by two food exporters on Tuesday.
The shipment for Malaysia is suspected to be part of a money laundering operation.
Dhaka-based exporter Bangla Food and Beverage Ltd and Choto Krishnadi of Narayanganj submitted a bill of export to Chattogram Custom House for the export of 22 tonnes of food stuffs to Malaysia.
The two consignments, worth $130,000, were loaded into two 20-foot containers at the private Inland Container Depot (ICD) Eastern Logistics Depot in Patenga for export to Malaysia.
The Audit Investigation and Research (AIR) Unit of Chattogram Custom House operated a search and found there were only 500 kilogrammes of goods.
Rezaul Karim, assistand comissionar of AIR, said, "The exporter's nominated C&F agent, R Islam Agency, submitted the bill of export at Chattogram Custom House on Monday."
"The goods were loaded into two 20-foot-sized containers for the two consignments, and they were waiting at the depot for the ship's call from the port," he added.
In the presence of the AIR team and representatives of the National Intelligence Agency, the concerned depots and the C&F Association, the seals of the containers were cut and the products were examined. They found the container was empty behind a few packages of puffed rice and dry-cake toast.
Despite the declaration of the depot authorities that they had checked the goods before they were stored, the authorities could not explain the incident.
It is suspected that an attempt has been made to launder money in the name of exports by smuggling black money abroad through Hundi transactions.
The assistant commissioner further said, "To encourage export trade, the government of Bangladesh provides cash incentives for the export of food items. This kind of money laundering crime and taking advantage of government initiatives is harming the food export business."
A case has been filed in this regard as per the customs law and the anti-money laundering unit of the customs house will start an investigation soon.
Md Rafiqul Islam, proprietor of Islam agency and C&F agent, told The Business Standard, "We submitted the bill of export to the custom house, according to the information provided by the exporter. We as C&F agents have no involvement in this incident."