Bond abuse takes toll on real entrepreneurs

Proceeds from illegal sale of duty-free goods being laundered

Staff Correspondent

27 June, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Many unscrupulous people have turned into millionaires in a short span of time, leaving genuine entrepreneurs to struggle in an unfair market situation.

Such immoral practice by a section of businessmen is also putting the local industries in jeopardy and depriving the government of huge revenue.

Sources said a syndicate led by Abul Hossain-Fazlur Rahman Parbat is controlling the bond abuse business. The majority portion of the money earned through bond abuse is allegedly being laundered.

Abul Hossain is the owner of Abul Market in Nayabazar while Fazlur Rahman Parbat is the president of Bangladesh Paper Merchants Association.

The syndicate is so powerful that field-level customs officials and law enforcers are unable to take any action against its members. If any officer conducts a raid, he/she is transferred to somewhere else, sources said. The syndicate has been continuing this illegal business for long.

According to the National Board of Revenue (NBR) officials, the government loses around Tk 6,000 crore  in revenue annually due to misuse of bonded warehouse facility in the paper sector alone.

They said the amount of revenue loss would be much higher if bond misuse in other sectors is taken into consideration.

Misuse of bond facility in the paper sector is widespread. Revenue board sources said the goods sold by misusing bond facility include paper materials like duplex board, art card, self-copy paper, medium paper, liner paper, paper roll and paper board, fabrics, pp material, PVC resin, HDP and LDP.

Local paper producers are the worst affected by bond misuse as low-quality paper products imported under the duty-free facility are being sold in the open market at much cheaper rates, said sources.

The government allows duty-free import of clothes and papers to be used in export-oriented RMG and packaging industries.

Imported through bonded warehouse facility, such products are being sold in the market illegally.

Local paper and cloth producers, who have to pay tax, are put on uneven competition in the market for sale of duty-free imported products.

The bond abusing syndicate has created a network spreading from various ports to wholesalers in Islampur and Nayabazar of the capital.

Customs Bond Commissionerate and Criminal Investigation Department (CID) have detected huge money earned by the syndicate members through abuse of bond.

Molla Nazrul Islam, special superintendent of police (organised crimes) of CID, said “We are investigating some money laundering cases. Import of duty-free products through fake LC is under the purview of our investigation.”

On August 20, 2017, customs officials seized a large quantity of duty-free imported goods from a covered van in Old Dhaka. They filed a case with Kotwali police station against Syed Abidul Islam, Mizanur Rahman and Khandker Surat Ali of Mastex Industries Ltd.

During the investigation, the CID has detected the company’s dodging of tax over Tk 100 crore.

On December 12, 2013, customs intelligence filed a case for importing duplex board through fake documents. Masud Packaging and Islam Associates in Narayanganj were allegedly involved in the offence. Uncle Packaging Ltd at Adamji EPZ was also sued for a similar offence. During investigation, CID has found involvement of some unscrupulous businessmen, bank officials and C&F agents in the forgery and abuse of the bond facility.

Meanwhile, customs intelligence of Chattogram unearthed involvement of C&F agents Dipu Chaklader and Habibur Rahman Apu Chaklader in tax dodging and bond abuse. A case was filed against them. Customs officials arrested Dipu on January 16 this year. The case was handed over to CID on January 23.

Apu and Dipu are owners of Chaklader Service and MR Trading respectively. Their main task was to facilitate the import of goods through fake documents.

CID also arrested Chattogram Customs House day labourer Sohraf Hossain alias Ripon, dispatch section staff Sirazul Islam, and AIR section UDCs Masum and Mofizul Islam Liton for their involvement in the irregularities.

Sources said Kaiyum, Sohel and Ainul alias Roni of Gulshan Ara City in Old Dhaka and Khoka Mia of Islampur have become a millionaires by selling duty-free goods.

Khoka Mia, who was a cloth retailer, is now the owner of 15-20 shops in Islampur. He also owns Nippon Traders and other mills and factories. He uses a broker named Kuddus for bringing the duty-free clothes to his shops. CID seized passports of  Motin Mia, Khoka Mia, Nesar Molla, Awlad, Ainal, Roni, Momen Ali and Kuddus for their involvement in the bond abuse trade.

On April 17, customs officials raided shops in Nayabazar and adjoining areas. Following an attack on them, they filed a case. Mahfuzur Rahman and Zamal, who stored duty-free goods, were implicated in the case. After getting released on bail, they returned to their previous business.

Customs Bond Commissionerate at Chattogram has taken a hard-line stand against bond abuse. It has recently detected the involvement of three business houses in selling duty-free products. The companies include Korean company HKD International, Sufi Apparels at Pahartoli DT Market, Abedin and Sons of South Patenga.