PUTRAJAYA: The Customs Department has gone after its own men in the battle against beer and liquor smuggling, nailing three officers shortly after an internal probe team was formed to sniff out the enemy from within.
The first arrest was made by the newly-formed internal investigation unit within the department, which has promised to plug any leakage and put hundreds of officers under scrutiny.
The unit, which comprises representatives from the department and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), was formed barely a month ago.
The three officers and one forwarding agent were caught when a container arrived at the Penang Port towards the end of last year, said a source familiar with the matter.
“When goods are moved, either from the port to the warehouse or free zone, we have a suspension procedure.
“This means no duty is needed to be paid during the transfer of these goods.
“However, in this case, the forms and procedures were all in order but the goods never arrived at the destination,” the source told The Star.
Duties for a 40-foot container carrying beer range from RM250,000 to RM300,000, while for liquor, it can be between half a million ringgit and RM1mil, depending on the type.
The duty for one 40-foot container carrying cigarettes is estimated to be RM6mil.
The three men have been placed under remand until tomorrow.
The source said that the case was just the tip of the iceberg as follow-up investigations showed that there were many more with a similar modus operandi.
“The cases are being investigated. More arrests will be made soon,” said the source.
Customs director-general Datuk Seri T. Subromaniam (pic) confirmed the arrest and the remand of the three officers and forwarding agent.
Subromaniam said the case was detected by the special internal investigation team, which came into being on Jan 2 to plug leakages within the department.
He said there were 27 Customs officers and one MACC officer in the unit.
He said the unit was created with the objective to weed out officers who are helping syndicates and bring them to justice.
“We also have our own internal disciplinary actions such as dismissals,” said Subromaniam.
He said hundreds of officers would be scrutinised.
“The majority of our officers are clean, but there are some who are involved in such matters. Our aim is to eradicate corruption in Customs,” Subromaniam said.
The unit will also be looking into misdeclaration involving high duty items such as liquor, beer, tyres, tiles, plastic waste and cigarettes.
Besides the internal investigation unit, the department and the police have also formed five joint committees to tackle multiple crimes, including the smuggling of illicit cigarettes, drugs and other contraband.
Subromaniam said the cooperation with police had been fruitful so far.
Last month, the Customs Department seized three million Erimin 5 pills worth about RM60mil shipped in to Port Klang from Taiwan.
The operation was jointly carried out with Bukit Aman.
Did you find this article insightful?