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BD Customs, airport officials under close watch

BD Customs, airport officials under close watch

DHAKA: The illicit trade in gold and foreign currencies through the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka has been on the rise lately. Most of those involved are usually transit passengers.

Law enforcers have arrested many smugglers with large amounts of gold and foreign currencies at the airport over the last few months.

But the kingpins remain unidentified, with a number of officials and airport staff allegedly working as syndicate members of the smuggling rings.

Sources say law enforcement agencies have been able to unearth only a handful of the smuggling incidents because many unscrupulous customs officials and employees of the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) are allegedly connected to the smuggling rackets.

Following the recent incidents, intelligence wings of law enforcement agencies have reportedly kept all CAAB officials and staff, including security guards, under close watch and have been looking into properties that these officials and staff own.

As part of the process, investigators have already interrogated a number of airport officials.

Alamgir Hossain, senior assistant police super of the Armed Police Battalion (APBn), said they had kept nearly a hundred airport officials under surveillance.

“We have already got allegations against several of them,” Alamgir said.

“Several of our teams have been working to get a grip on the smuggling activities. We have already obtained some information.”

The authorities on Wednesday recovered 124kg of gold from a Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight. They however have not yet linked anyone to the package.

Last Friday, APBn members nabbed one Mizanur Rahman Ripon at the Shahjalal airport with gold and electronic appliances.

Ripon, who was coming back from Singapore, had 400g of gold, 52 digital cameras, 43 mobile phone sets, eight tablet computers and one laptop, worth Tk7m.

On July 6, customs officials seized gold bars weighing 25.3kg and worth around Tk90m from the toilet in a Biman airbus.

In this case too, law enforcers are still in the dark about those actually involved in the smuggling.

Lawmen on June 13 held a Pakistani citizen named Md Sadaqat Ali Khan with Rs4.1m and 85 cartons of cigarettes at the Shahjalal Airport.

Once again, the authorities have not managed to identify the masterminds.

Preferring to be unnamed, an APBn official said the force does its best to arrest the smugglers at the airport and hand them over to the police.

“But after securing bail from the court, the criminals get involved in smuggling again with the help of some dishonest customs and CAAB officials,” the official said.

There are allegations against a number of customs and CAAB officials of seizing property from and getting involved with smuggling rackets, sources in the law enforcement agencies said.

Many of these officials own properties worth millions including apartments, houses and lands in various parts of the capital city, which law enforcers said were obtained with the illegally acquired money.

Seeking anonymity, a Rab intelligence officer said they had been preparing complete profiles of the officials allegedly involved in the smuggling and were trying to get full information on the properties they owned.

For those found guilty, stern actions, including transfer and termination, would be taken, said Deputy Director of the CAAB Captain (Retd) Ekram Ullah.

ollect�Uo 0k �; duties by Uganda and Rwanda before goods are released from Mombasa Port and for the goods destined for warehousing, importers to continue executing the general bond security.


Benefits of the single customs territory to the region

Kenyan clearing agents will lose some business that will go to hinterland states like Uganda – an indication of the win-win situation provided by the integration process.

Restrictive regulations are eliminated as the corridor is now considered to be one region for customs purposes while circulation of goods will happen with no or minimal border controls.

Under the SCT, the three partner states will recognise mutual customs bonds executed by their respective insurance companies, as cargo destined to bonded warehouses will be verified at port of origin or entry, by liaison customs officials representing the destination countries.

Ultimately, it will reduce cargo clearance delays, reduce clearance costs and multiple bond securities and eliminate checkpoints along the Northern Corridor.

It will also ensure seamless flow of goods, increase revenue collection through easier payment systems.

In effect it will be the culmination of a fully-fledged Customs Union that will enhance regional trade.