The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) has announced the confiscation of four additional vehicles and a motorbike allegedly smuggled into the country in two 40ft pre-shipment inspection (PSI) containers belonging to two separate consignees. The containers were shipped from Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, United States of America. According to a press release, the vehicles and motor bike along with other goods were discovered on containers marked “MRKU2010634” and “MSKU 86465423” with tampered seal.
The LRA details that the container marked “MRKU2010634” was imported by Mohammed Kommeh, who holds (Tax Identification Number 50063500), and was shipped from the United States by Nana Ali.
On this container, Customs officials at the Freeport of Monrovia discovered two undeclared vehicles (Toyota Tacoma – 2000 and Chevrolet Equanox – 2004) and a 1981 Suzuki motorbike.
On the second container marked “MSKU 86465423”, which consignee was Ibrihima Brown, a Hyundai Genesis, 2012 and a Toyota Highlander, 2001 were discovered undeclared and confiscated. The vehicle identification number (VIN) submitted by the importer differed from the ones discovered on the container.
The two containers were being cleared by Vedar & Sons Clearing and Forwarding Inc. of Paynesville city, with Mr. Edison Brown as Customs Broker.An LRA investigation discovers that Ibrahima Brown and Edison Brown are brothers to Sheik K. Brown. Sheik K. Brown is co-defendant in the ongoing case of the seven stolen vehicles of October 2016.
The Containers were recently inspected at the Freeport of Monrovia’s Destination Inspection (DI) Site, after an LRA Customs Examiner Moses Ndoleh observed that the BIVAC Seal on one of the Containers had been broken and rejoined with glue.The Container was a BIVAC Pre-Shipment Inspection Container but the Asycuda selectivity intelligence engine directed the Container to the Red Lane, triggering the requirement for a 100% physical examination.
The release says this Inspection should have taken place at the Consignee’s warehouse. For Containers that have undergone Pre-Shipment Inspection (PSI) and that are also not on BIVAC’s alert list, the examination is normally undertaken at the Consignee’s warehouse, instead of the DI Site notwithstanding the red lane trigger.
After satisfying initial customs’ formalities including payment of required taxes as per the BIVAC Clean Report of Findings, a clearance notification was sent by Customs to APM Terminals to release the container to its owner. The release from APMT was to be followed by further Customs’ formalities including physical inspection of the BIVAC seal at the Exit Gate prior to exit from the Freeport While conducting the routine seal inspection upon the arrival of the container at the Exit Gate, Customs Officer Moses Ndoleh, who was recently assigned at the NPA Exit Gate solely to inspect BIVAC seal, observed that the BIVAC seal had been tampered with.
The Container was immediately redirected to the DI Site which is within the confines of the Freeport for 100% inspection. During the inspection, several undeclared items including two vehicles and a motorbike were discovered. This is the latest in a series of schemes discovered at the Freeport in the Customs Clearance Process through various revenue protection measures such as heightened due diligence, decisive disciplinary actions and whistleblowing initiatives undertaken by the LRA.
Commissioner General Tamba said there are many loopholes in the revenue system of the Country and it requires enormous and concerted efforts to mitigate them to ensure that more lawful revenues are collected for the wellbeing of Liberia. She vows to pursue all perpetrators, including the exporter.
She also calls on persons exporting to Liberia from the United States, who are in the habit of tampering with the BIVAC seal and stuffing containers with items after inspection to desist.
The LRA Commissioner General indicates that data shows that exports from the United Sates to Liberia by certain nationalities and from certain States carry a higher revenue risk. Press Release