Customs House, Chattogram, has foiled an attempted import document forgery by textile accessory maker Permess South East Asia Ltd trying to evade customs duties of Tk2.30 crore.
Customs officials said Permess South East Asia Ltd had already gotten away with evading Tk68.24 lakh in duties with forged papers on three consignments, and was processing four more shipments when they were apprehended.
Chattogram customs filed a case with Patenga police station on 19 July against the importer and its clearing and forwarding agent (C&F agent), Lira International. A lawsuit has also been lodged against both enterprises under the customs act, said Sultan Mahmud, deputy commissioner (prevention) at Chattogram customs house.
The accused are Permess South East Asia Ltd Chairman Evart Jan Beren Pass, Managing Director Aftab Khan, Director Risat Khan, C&F agent Lira International owner Nasir Ullah, and C&F employee Riton Chowdhury.
Chattogram customs house revenue officer Mohammad Ibrahim Hossain said C&F employee Riton Chowdhury submitted the bill of entry on 18 July against four consignments of garment raw materials. The papers had the forged signature of a deputy commissioner at the Customs Bond Commissionerate, Dhaka.
"Upon being challenged, the C&F agent tried to flee the office. Customs staff apprehended him and handed him over to the police," said Ibrahim.
Subsequently, Chattogram Customs Commissioner M Fakhrul Alam notified the Dhaka Customs Bond Commissionerate about the incident and the importer has been asked to explain why its bond licence should not be revoked.
The government provides exporting industries in Bangladesh with the bond facility for raw material imports required to produce goods that are to be exported out of the country again. The Customs Bond Commissionerate determines how much raw material an enterprise can import with the bond licence.
According to the information the importer provided to customs, Permess South East Asia Ltd's factory is in Tangail and head office in Dhaka's Panthapath.
With imported raw materials under the bond facility, the company manufactures textile accessories such as interlinings and supplies this to other exporting garments industries.
Contacted, SM Subayel Islam, an official at the Permess South East Asia Ltd, said, "We are not involved in those [forgery scam] incidents. The C&F employees did that on their own."
Despite several attempts for a comment, The Business Standard could not reach Lira International, the C&F company in question.
Mohammad Nijam Uddin, officer-in-charge of Patenga Police Station, said they are investigating the forgery case.
Investigation sources said Permess Chairman Evart Jan Beren Pass is a Dutch citizen, while Managing Director Aftab Khan, and Director Risat Khan and family, are now in the USA.