The Chattogram Customs House (CCH) fined Bangla Food and Beverage Limited (BDBL) Tk35 lakh for trying to embezzle government incentives in the name of exporting processed food.
The company tried to get Tk17 lakh incentive money through a false declaration of exporting 13 types of goods in two consignments to Malaysia in December 2020, said customs sources.
The customs investigation found that the company also tried to launder Tk86,06,000 abroad without exporting any goods.
The CCH fined the company Tk35 lakh on 13 September for trying to claim Tk8,59,162 incentive money, without exporting the goods declared in their bill of export, through one of the consignments. The attempt to embezzle Tk8,62,074 incentive money through another consignment is awaiting trial.
According to CCH sources, the two consignments were supposed to contain 21,726kg of goods in two containers, but only 1,135kg of goods were found. In one consignment, 543kg goods were found in place of 10,876kg while in another consignment, 592kg goods were found in place of 10,850kg.
Audit Investigation and Research (AIR) unit of CCH seized the products of the two consignments from the private inland container depot (ICD) of Eastern Logistics on 22 December 2020.
To encourage the export sector, the government provides cash assistance (incentives) to exporters of 37 categories of products. Among the categories, the Vegetable and Fruits Export category get the highest 20% incentive.
According to CCH sources, the Directorate of Customs Intelligence and Investigation (CIID) and the Anti-Money Laundering Unit of Customs are scrutinising 52 previous export consignments of BFBL worth Tk22.94 crore. A case will be filed against BFBL under the Money Laundering Act for embezzlement of incentive money and money laundering.
CCH Commissioner Mohammad Fakhrul Alam said Bangla Food and Beverage was fined Tk35 lakh for forgery in the name of exporting goods. Anyone involved in such frauds will be prosecuted under customs and state law.
According to CCH sources, R Islam Agency, a C&F agent nominated by the exporter BFBL, submitted a bill of export to CCH for exporting processed agricultural products. Acting on a tip-off, the AIR unit of CCH suspended the export of the two consignments.
According to the exporter's declaration, the products were puffed rice, toast biscuit, chilli spice, coriander spice, chicken masala, turmeric, curry spice, potato crackers, and other processed agricultural products.
The total taxable value of one consignment is Tk43,68,230. Instead of exporting goods worth Tk42,92,814 in the consignment, as declared in the bill of export, an attempt was made to take Tk8,59,162 export incentive at the rate of 20% on that price. The customs authorities fined the exporter Tk35 lakh for this consignment.
The total taxable value of the other consignment is Tk44,749. Instead of exporting goods worth Tk43,10,374, an attempt was made to take Tk8,62,074 export incentives at the rate of 20% on that price. The attempted forgery through this consignment is awaiting trial.
The CCH temporarily suspended the license of R Islam Agency on 30 December 2020 on charges of being involved in this forgery.
On condition of anonymity, a BFBL director said, "A vested quarter is making allegations of fraud against Bangla Food to tarnish our business reputation. A complaint has been filed with Patenga Model Police Station on 15 January alleging theft of goods from Eastern Logistics."
When contacted, Md Rafiqul Islam, proprietor of R Islam Agency, said the bill of export was submitted based on the information given by the exporter. As a C&F agent, we are not liable for the alleged forgery.