The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has started an enquiry into the owners of 2,168 luxury cars and SUVs to see if there was any malpractice during import and registration of the vehicles.
The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) issued registrations to these privately owned luxury vehicles over the last five years. The total approximate value of the vehicles of various brands of 2,500cc and above is Tk4,000 crore.
A special team of the graft watchdog is carrying on with the enquiry to find out information about the owners of the vehicles.
The ACC this week received detailed information regarding the luxurious cars and SUVs, which include Toyota Land Cruiser, V-8 Prado, Harrier, Range Rover, and those of Porsche, Nissan, Mercedes Benz, BMW brands.
The commission has collected information from the BRTA to enquire if there had been any corruption during the importing process of these vehicles and whether there are any inconsistencies between the income and expenditure of the owners.
ACC Commissioner Dr Mozammel Haque Khan said, "The commission will collect and examine detailed information about the owners of the vehicles. We will check whether the cars have been imported following the rules properly, if there is information in the tax files of their owners and if anybody has evaded taxes and duties."
He warned that the commission will take stern action if any irregularity is found against the owners.
The commission had initial information that a number of luxury cars and SUVs imported under the Carnet de Passage system have been registered with the BRTA with fake documents.
The Carnet de Passage system allows travellers to move through countries driving their own vehicles without payment of any duty and taxes.
At the same time, the anti-graft body has information about releasing cars from ports through underinvoicing and dodging taxes, and payment of vehicle prices through hundi (an under the radar money transferring system) and registration of 126 vehicles with fake tax identification numbers (TINs).
The ACC last year wrote to the BRTA, seeking information on the luxury vehicles as part of its enquiry into the allegations of tax evasion and using fake TINs in their registrations.
The BRTA initially provided the commission a list of 2,444 luxury cars, including a number of vehicles owned by different government organisations. Later, the BRTA sent a revised list of the 2,168 privately owned vehicles.
BRTA Director (Operation) Sitangshu Shekhar Biswas told The Business Standard, "We have sent a list of luxury vehicles according to the demand of the ACC. We also have provided the names and addresses of the owners, importers, models of the vehicles, their status – new or reconditioned – brands, values and the amount of taxes paid."
Both the state agencies said most of the owners of these vehicles are industrialists and businessmen. The list also include cars and SUVs imported by parliament members under their duty free privilege.