In a unique attempt to evade taxation, an importer has attempted to import cigarettes declaring them as apples.
The cigarettes were hidden under apples in cartons, according to customs sources.
On Thursday, Chattogram Customs House authorities seized 22,19,000 cigarettes of different brands at Chattogram Port, from a consignment of apples imported from the United Arab Emirates.
Marhaba Fresh Fruits, a Chattogram-based importer, tried to evade Tk5.3 crore in taxes by engaging in this fraudulence.
According to Chattogram Customs, Marhaba imported one container of goods from the UAE declared as 'fresh apples'. Jime Enterprise, a C&F agent in Chattogram, submitted a bill of entry on 20 December to unload the consignment.
Acting on a tipoff, the Audit, Investigation and Research (AIR) section of customs suspended release of the consignment on 22 December.
Deputy Commissioner (Prevention) of Chattogram Customs House, Mohammad Salahuddin Rizvi, said that after inspecting 1,120 cartons of the consignment of apples, 22,19,000 of cigarette sticks of Mond, Esse and Oris brands were found hidden under the apples in 754 cartons.
The estimated value of the cigarettes is Tk1.37 crore, and the importer fraudulently tried to avoid paying Tk5.3 crore in taxes.
He said strict and exemplary punishment will be taken against persons involved in the incident.