The All Ceylon Customs Services Union (ACCSU) yesterday complained to the Financial Crime Investigation Division (FCID) about a large scale fraud amounting to Rs.1 billion.
It said the fraud had taken place at the Customs when it released vehicles imported on permits and thus evading taxes.
ACCSU General Secretary J.A. Gunathilake alleged that this racket had been carried out by a several finance companies and individuals when importing luxury vehicles such as BMWs from Japan valued at more than US$75,000 USDs using vehicle permits given to state sector employees.
“The permit only allows an employee to import a vehicle valued at less than US$35,000. Most of our state employees don’t have the funds to import a vehicle even on a permit. Therefore, some companies purchase these permits for a lesser amount and use the permits to import luxury vehicles,” he said.
Mr. Gunathilake said these companies also receive a concession on the declared a value of less than US$35,000 when importing the vehicles. He said the companies pay about Rs.1.6 million to the Customs instead of the actual taxes that needed to be paid.
“These underhand tactics result in the government losing billions of rupees as Government revenue. The then president and finance minister Mahinda Rajapaksa gave a ruling that anyone can import vehicles from the permits given to state employees. Recently, the finance companies which imported vehicles on permits had influenced Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayke through a ministry secretary to get their imported vehicles released evading customs levies,” Mr. Gunathilake said adding that the Customs Director General had taken measures to release such vehicles on the minster’s orders.
He said they had complained to the President, Prime Minister and the Finance Minister but there had been no response from them.
“This is why we came to the FCID,” he said.
(Source: Daily Mirror – By Lahiru Pothmulla)