May 27, 2009 News
-other agencies accused of compromising
Customs Officers at Lethem on the Guyana/Brazil border have seized a large quantity of beer from a businessman following a sting operation last Monday.
The Customs officers also impounded the businessman’s vehicle in which the 80 cases of beer illegally imported from nighbouring Brazil were found.
The Saturday afternoon bust was the second attempt to have the businessman pay the duties on the imported beer and followed an earlier attempt by the businessman to smuggle in the items.
Reports reaching this newspaper stated that earlier Saturday, Customs officials stationed at the border stopped the businessman with a quantity of chicken and the beers, (Skol and Antartica) which he had brought across the border from Bon Fin.
They requested that he pay the customs duties on the items or return them to Brazil, which he opted to do.
But the Customs Officers were suspicious about the man’s willingness to return the items to Brazil and they were convinced that he would try to smuggle them in under the cover of darkness.
Later in the day, about 18:00 hours, the officers set up a roadblock on the old Lethem access road when they subsequently spotted the businessman and two of his employees in a vehicle with the smuggled beers.
The items were seized along with the vehicle in which they were being transported.
Customs officials at Lethem have reported that the execution of their duties is being compromised by some corrupt police officers who they claim are allowing persons to use the yet to be opened Takatu Bridge to transport uncustomed goods into Guyana.
The police had erected makeshift barriers on the Guyana side of the bridge prohibiting vehicular traffic since it was announced that the facility was not officially opened.The Customs officials said that their activity was not concentrated at that location since they were of the belief that the police would have been strict in prohibiting vehicular traffic and thereby minimise smuggling activity.
According to a source at Lethem, the Custom officers who effected Saturday’s bust were subjected to verbal abuses by persons connected to the businessman who threatened to report them to a senior official of the ruling People’s Progressive Party.
When contacted yesterday Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority, Khurshid Sattaur, told this newspaper that he had not yet received a report on the matter and could not offer a comment.
However he pointed out that the revenue authority is about to implement new policies to deal with the expected increase in traffic when the Takatu Bridge is officially opened.
“We anticipate a lot of traffic and we will have to ensure some orderliness there. We have already begun sensitizing the community and have been talking to the relevant persons in that area, the chamber of commerce and the RDC, so that there will not be any misunderstanding,” Sattaur told Kaieteur News.
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