Dec 14, 2017 News
Investigators are continuing to question a number of officials, including people from Berbice branch of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) over the seizure of a quantity of smuggled goods.
The goods were seized over a period of time by Customs officials at the Springlands, Corentyne, Berbice location of GRA.
However, on Monday a scheme to steal the goods was thwarted after senior officials at GRA received wind of it.
Yesterday, a senior official disclosed that the probe was steaming ahead with some staffers suspected of collusion being questioned.
Several staffers of the authority have been sent home over the past year amid a crackdown on corruption and a tightening up of systems.
Over the past year, GRA has also been reporting on making significant inroads into denting of smuggling with more seizures and collections of duties and taxes.
Over the years, the majority of smuggling was blamed on lapses, in especially Berbice by corrupt Customs officers.
On entering office in 2015, the Coalition Government disbanded the Berbice Anti-Smuggling Squad (BASS), after an assessment found that it was not collecting even enough taxes to pay its bills.
There was deep suspicion of entrenched corruption.
GRA, under new management and a Governing Board of Directors, has been tightening up the screws.
Within the last four months alone, GRA reported this week, it was able to recover almost $400M in what could have been lost in taxes.
The seizures included cases of beers, firecrackers, poison, mosquito coils and a variety of other things.
The Springlands area, in close proximity to Suriname- about 10 minutes away by speedboat– has been a hotbed for smuggling over the years.
With regards to Monday’s arrest and seizure, officials of GRA confirmed that they received information that an attempt was being made to remove some goods.
Indeed, they managed to detain a truck and its driver, from Number 44 Village, Corentyne, on the West Bank of Demerara.
It is being reported that the goods were collected from a Berbice bond of GRA, under the pretext that it was being taken to the Eccles, East Bank Demerara, bond of GRA.
However, the truck instead attempted to divert to West Demerara, where it was held.
A car, a Toyota 212, that was escorting it was also seized. The car reportedly belongs to an Essequibo businessman.
There are allegations that instructions to release the goods from the Berbice bond came from the GRA headquarters.
The probe by GRA’s recently established special investigations unit is reportedly headed by former Crime Chief, Henry Chester.
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