A luxury sports car is sitting in a container at a city wharf after authorities became suspicious.
According to reports, the Ferrari landed in a container a few weeks ago. However, the sports car was held up immediately by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) after some discrepancies over the paper works.
Kaieteur News was told that the vehicle was imported by a woman who had applied for remigrant tax waivers.
However, GRA apparently got wind of possible plan to sell the car to a prominent city auto dealer who has been at the centre of a number of accusation by both GRA and customers.
The matter is being investigated to determine whether the application was above board, among other things.
Under arrangements started in the 90s, Guyanese living abroad wanting to come back and live, can bring back their possessions, including vehicles and furniture once they can prove ownership.
However, there are conditions; the owner must remain in Guyana for more time than abroad over a period of three years.
Should the vehicle be sold before three years, the relevant taxes are calculated and must be paid as a penalty by the owner to GRA.
The authority, over the years, has been facing numerous instances of abuse of the remigrant scheme which was introduced to attract Guyanese living abroad to come back and invest.
At least one senior Ministry of Finance official was accused of being part of a scheme to collect monies for those duty free letters, as the approvals were known.
With millions of dollars involved for clearing sedans and SUVs, any fraud perpetuated has been costing GRA dear.
Over a decade ago, the Government made introduced laws that allow Remigrants to be granted approvals once they fulfill the requirements.
However, there were hundreds of vehicles, especially the high-price SUVs, which came into the country via fake remigrants. The persons are paid a small fee, come live here for a few months before migrating back.
The vehicle either ends up in the hands of a few crooked auto dealer and others.
Since taking office in 2015, the administration had changed management at GRA, the country’s premier tax collection agency.
Scores of vehicles imported under the Remigrant Scheme have been seized, with owners quietly paying the penalties, amounting to millions of dollars in some cases, to GRA.
In December alone, Kaieteur News was told, GRA seized at least seven vehicles with more than $50M collected. And those were all from breaches in the scheme.
GRA has been visiting homes as part of the crackdown to ensure that owners are in the country and are complying. There have reportedly been cases where the vehicles were found elsewhere in the hands of other persons…a breach. Fines were reportedly doled out.
Meanwhile, GRA is continuing to investigate an incident last week where a container of Guzzler juices was reportedly cleared from a Water Street wharf and recorded as food. The incorrect classification, believed to have been deliberate, cost GRA almost $1M.
The shipment of juice was seized and a probe is underway.
That incident would follow a similar one at another city wharf two weeks ago.
GRA has been fighting rampant corruption with over 100 staffers sent home for wrongdoings and other infractions over the past 18 months.
Legit businesses have been complaining bitterly of the impact of smuggling and collusion, by some GRA staffers, on their operations.
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