Chattogram Custom House has foiled an importer's attempt to evade a large amount of tax in which the company declared it was importing paper but was actually importing foreign cigarettes.
Sources said Chattogram-based importer Karim Trading recently imported a container of A4 size paper from the United Arab Emirates. On Sunday night, Chattogram Custom House found 23,000 cartons of foreign cigarettes – instead of the A4-sized paper – while inspecting the consignment at Chattogram Port.
According to customs' estimate, the importer tried to evade tax worth Tk11 crore.
Rezaul Karim, assistant commissioner of the audit investigation and research (AIR) unit of Chattogram Custom House, said, "Karim Trading, an importer from Riazuddin Bazar area in the port city, imported one container of goods declaring it as trading paper. C&F Agent-Surma Enterprise submitted a bill of entry with Chattogram Custom House on 4 February to unload the consignment."
"On suspicion, the AIR team of Chattogram Custom started inspecting the products of the container. The C&F agent tried to dodge the customs officials by showing a stack of paper placed on the front side of the container. When the customs officials asked the C&F agent to show the goods from inside the container, the agent started dilly-dallying to obey the order; and at one stage requested customs to suspend the inspection," he continued.
"In this context, following the order of Chattogram Customs Commissioner Mohammad Fakhrul Alam, the AIR unit inspected the goods stored at the back of the container, in the presence of officials of the NSI, port authorities and C&F Association," he added.
"After removing all the products from the container, it was found that each of the 48 polythene-wrapped pallets contained 48 cartons. Of these, only 12 cartons on top of each pallet were full of paper alone. Another 36 cartons of each pallet contained one ream of A4-sized paper at the top, but under the ream of paper, a separate carton was found which was full of foreign cigarettes,"he continued.
"The first eight pallets of the 48-pallet container had only paper, but the rest of the pallets contained hidden cigarettes. The physical inspection ended at 2pm and a total of 23,000 cartons of foreign cigarettes were recovered. Additionally, 14 tonnes of A4 size paper was found," he said.
The Chattogram Custom House commissioner visited the spot at night and directed the officials concerned to identify the smugglers and provide exemplary punishment.
According to the website of C&F Agents Association, Kawsar Yasmin is the proprietor of C&F Agent Surma Enterprise.
The mobile number of Yasmin and two other land phone numbers of Surma Enterprise – collected from the association's website – were found switched off during repeated attempts by The Business Standard to reach Yasmin.