CHATTOGRAM: The Customs authority has issued an alert to prevent fraudulence and irregularities in the delivery of the large number of vehicles imported illegally from Japan without opening letters of credit (LCs).
However, the Chattogram and Mongla Customs authorities are yet to disclose the number of vehicles imported without LCs.
The Joint Commissioner of Mongla Customs Muhammad Mahfuz Ahmad said determining whether each vehicle has a letter of credit is a lengthy and complex process.
“In order to prevent fraud and irregularities in this regard, we issued a warning regarding the delivery of all vehicles,” he added.
An office order asked that the information on hard copies of the letter of credits be checked against the information contained in the ASYCUDA World System, as well as the date of issuance of the BL, the name of the loading port, the date the manifest was registered, and the date the LC was issued.
Legal action will be taken based on the findings regarding the shipment of vehicles prior to opening the letter of credit.
There is still a question of how many vehicles lack LC, as the shipping line has not yet issued bills of lading for the vehicles since they do not have a copy of the LC, a leader of the vehicle traders said.
Director Morshed Harun of Ancient Steamship Company Limited, the local agent for the concerned vessel, however, claimed that BLs for all the vehicles had already been issued.
“But, it is not my jurisdiction to know how many vehicles have LCs," he added.
Mentionable, a large number of vehicles have been brought from Japan illegally by vehicle traders without opening letters of credit (LCs) recently. The vehicles shipped to Bangladesh by vessel e 'Malaysia Star' are now kept in sheds at Chattogram and Mongla ports.
The consignment included 872 vehicles for more than 300 importers.
Illegal car imports are occurring at a time when traders are facing complexities to open letters of credit for essential commodities.
In the current economic circumstances, commodity imports are threatened as banks cannot provide sufficient dollars.
Consumer goods traders have expressed surprise at the number of luxury vehicles that reached the ports without having any LC opened.
A vehicle has never been imported without an LC in Bangladesh's history.
These vehicles have been imported by several senior leaders of the Bangladesh Reconditioned Vehicles Importers and Dealers Association (BARVIDA), including a key leader from Chattogram.
The importers are now attempting to release the vehicles by submitting the LCs quickly, said the sources.
Most of the vehicles that arrived by Malaysia Star on November 22 were supplied by Cross Continental's Dr Jahir Uddin, an expatriate Bangladeshi living in Japan.
Among the imported vehicles, 321 were unloaded at Chattogram port and 551 at Mongla port.
Imports worth up to $5,000 are allowed without a Letter of Credit under the Import Policy.
Importing such a large number of vehicles without LCs is not possible.
In the event that the LC is not submitted, customs may impose hefty fines.
Earlier, the IT department of Chattogram Customs was instructed to verify all the submitted information, including the IGM of the entire shipment.