Chattogram Customs House has put at auction 405 tonnes of unclaimed diopside, which arrived at the Chattogram Port eight months ago.
In the auction, a Chattogram-based bidder offered the highest Tk3 lakh for 15 container-loads of the import while the customs house estimated the price at around Tk1.68 crore.
Diopside is a bright mineral substance available in different colours and used in the ceramics industry. Besides, it is also used in jewellery.
The consignment, imported by Bangladesh Hardland Ceramics Company Ltd (BHL), arrived at the port on 31 October, 2019.
But Hardland did not submit any documents to the customs, seeking release of the diopside for unknown reasons. As no paper was submitted, the customs was in dark about the exporter and at what price it was bought.
In the removal list of Chattogram port, Hardland Ceramics was said to be situated in Habiganj.
Since Hardland did not claim the item, the customs house put it at auction on 30 June this year while the highest bidding price was Tk3 lakh.
Customs cannot sell a product if the auction price is not at least 60% of its dutiable value. Therefore, Chattogram customs will call another bidding for the unclaimed diopside.
The customs house calculated the dutiable value of the diopside consignment at 49 cents per kg in line with the international market. According to the calculation, the dutiable value of 405 tonnes of diopside is around Tk1.68 crore, while the auction price fell below 60% of the calculated price.
Chattogram Customs House Deputy Commissioner (Auction) Faisal Bin Rahman said they will hold a fresh bidding for the consignment as the first auction price was far below their expectation.
The Business Standard contacted Hardland Ceramics officials several times, but they declined to make any comment on the import or the reason for not getting it released.
Elias Titu, manager (commercial) of the company, said he would give the details later, but he did not contact.
In the meantime, Chattogram-based Swadesh Chemicals who offered Tk3 lakh for the diopside said they took part in the bidding without knowing much about the substance.
Nur Hossain, auction In-Charge of Swadesh, said they are now inquiring about the details of diopside and they would offer a fresh price if the substance is found compatible with their business.
Diopside is not a perishable item. Customs officials suspect that the unclaimed consignment might be linked to money laundering.
Chattogram Customs House Commissioner Mohammad Fakhrul Alam said they have collected samples from the consignment and sent those for testing. They also sought expert opinion on it.