The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), through its Anti-Smuggling and Intelligence Unit (ASIU) has seized two vehicles that were smuggled into the country through the Free Port of Monrovia.
A press release from the LRC says the vehicles were smuggled in a BIVAC Pre-shipment Inspection (PSI) sealed container. The two vehicles, a Used Toyota Mini Bus and a Mitsubishi Pickup, which were onboard a container marked “MRKU4628339” from Australia, were illegally imported as car parts by the Inland Trading Center and cleared by the Sealine Marine Cargo Handling Inc, and intercepted on June 15.
The release says this is the second time a container with smuggled goods from Australia has been intercepted here. BIVAC is currently investigating this serious infraction.
An LRA Anti-Smuggling investigation established that some vital parts of the vehicles including seats, doors and engines were disassembled and secretly concealed in the middle segments of the container.
The investigation indicates that the vehicles were hidden deep among several other consignments and were not declared as items on the shipment listing by the consignee.
The LRA Anti-Smuggling discovered the criminal act following a robust inspection carried out by its Intercepting Officer and a Customs Examiner, who escorted the container to its destination in Paynesville, outside Monrovia.
The Mini Bus remained on the container and was transported back to the Freeport of Monrovia for custody, while the Mitsubishi Pickup, which was immovable as a result of the disassembled parts, remained under the custody of the consignee to be returned to the Freeport of Monrovia.
The release notes that the action is in compliance with Section 1608 of the Revenue Code of Liberia, which specifically talks about Untrue Declaration, Recovery of Duty and Penalty.
The LRA vows to ensure the importer of the smuggled vehicles is prosecuted for smuggling and tax evasion. In a related development, in 2015, the LRA intercepted the smuggling of four vehicles, imported by one Lloyd Smith.
The vehicles were brought into the country in September 2015 with customs duties paid, but the U.S. Government, through its embassy near Monrovia, later alerted the LRA that the vehicles were stolen.
In its communications dated October 22, 2015 the US Embassy noted that four vehicles were confirmed stolen from the United States and were part of an ongoing criminal investigation. The case is currently being heard at Criminal Court C at the Temple of Justice.
The LRA has at the same time reiterated its commitment to promoting and protecting fair trade in line with international standards within its customs ports and borders.
The institution maintains that while it has a duty to collect lawful revenues on behalf of the Government and people of Liberia, it is also under legal and lawful duty to promote fair trade consistent with its mandate and in keeping with the International Convention on Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters. Press Release