Siam Enterprise, a Dhaka-based importer, has forged a clearance permit by opening a fake website of the commerce ministry to release a consignment of baby food, though it had claimed to import olives and peanuts.
The website www.mincomgov.com that was opened was strikingly similar to the official commerce ministry website www.mincom.gov.bd.
The customs had earlier imposed a fine of Tk76 lakh on the importer for importing goods under false declaration.
The importer had forged the signature of the deputy secretary of the Ministry of Commerce and developed a fake website to release goods this time.
The Chattogram Custom House will file a case against the importer, Siam Enterprise, and the C&F agent, Khan Enterprise, on the charges of evading duties through false declaration, and releasing consignment through forgery, the latter of which was discovered later.
Nur A Hasna Sanjida Ansua, assistant commissioner at the Custom House, said, "The importer had initially committed a crime by importing goods under false declaration. They then committed another criminal offence by developing a fake website and downloading a false clearance permit to deceive the customs."
A case will be filed against Siam Enterprise and the C&F agent under the ICT and Criminal Act for these fraudulent activities, she added.
Sources from the Custom House said Siam Enterprise of Dhaka had declared the import of 13,520 kilograms of olives and peanuts from Malaysia. But instead they brought in 21,060 kilograms of baby food from Nestle Company.
To release the goods from Chattogram port, the C&F agent, Khan Enterprise, submitted a bill of entry to the Custom House on 23 April.
The customs officials had received prior intelligence that the consignment contained non-declared goods. They conducted a physical examination at the port yard and identified the forgery.
Chattogram Custom House Commissioner, Mohammad Fakhrul Alam, imposed a fine of Tk76 lakh on the importer for providing false declaration in the invoice and for not complying with the terms of the import policy.
He approved the release of the consignment subject to submission of a clearance permit from the Ministry of Commerce, or the Office of the Chief Controller of Imports and Exports.
Later, on 10 October, importer, Siam Enterprise, submitted a commerce ministry permit to the Custom House. On 13 October, it submitted another letter from the Ministry of Commerce regarding the clearance permit.
Both letters recommended the release of the consignment, subject to payment of duties and penalties as determined by the Customs Commissioner.
But the customs officials were suspicious. So, after calling the deputy secretary of the Ministry of Commerce to verify, they received confirmation that the clearance permit submitted to the Custom House was fake.
According to Customs sources, Nestle milk may only be imported by their authorised dealers.
The import policy states that baby food packets must bear the words, "There is no substitute for breast milk." The powdered milk packet did not bear this inscription.
Several attempts were made to contact Golam Maula Khan, the proprietor of C&F agent Khan Enterprise, through mobile phone. However, he did not receive the phone calls.
It was not possible to contact any officials from Siam Enterprise either.