In December last year, Chattogram Customs seized fake rolls of cigarette tape or counterfeit revenue stamps worth around Tk 230 crore in two shipments of offset papers imported from China by two shell companies based on Chattogram.
Following the seizure, customs authorities in an investigation found that racketeering had previously released 13 such consignments.
According to customs officials, the entry of stamps, typically used in cigarette packs, has caused the government to recognize a loss of at least Tk 1,000 crore in revenue.
According to the rules set by the National Board of Revenue (NBR), companies must collect the tape rolls from the Security Printing Corporation (Bangladesh) Ltd, which is the main government stamp printer in Bangladesh.
The tax administration derives its income from the sale of stamps and therefore it is not possible to purchase or import such items from any organization other than the SPCL.
Modhumati Associates Ltd, the only customs clearance and shipping agent engaged in importing goods from the same Chinese company by Bappu Enterprise and Arafat Enterprise, shut down its website after the cargo was seized.
Chinese exporter Digi Anti-Fake (Shenzhen) Co Ltd, where the shipments originated from, also shut down its website.
Sharfuddin Miah, deputy commissioner in the Audit Investigation and Research (AIR) section of Chattogram Customs House, told TBS: âThese published rolls of tape may be available on packs of cigarettes currently on the market or in possession of importers and cigarette dealers.
Customs authorities filed two separate cases against the Bappu company and the Arafat company on December 16 and December 23, respectively, with the Bandar police station in connection with the seizure of the tape rolls.
In a letter to the NBR chairman on Jan.4, Chattogram Customs House commissioner Mr Fakhrul Alam said there was a need to verify the samples after collecting them from the depots of dealers, retailers and businesses. suspects in the respective districts.
“Immediately before the stock of imported counterfeit tape rolls runs out, it is possible to collect suspicious samples from the depots of the respective resellers, retailers and suspicious companies and test them with the SPCL to find out which companies are involved. in stamp forgery, “he added.
The letter also mentioned that the matter should be investigated by VAT detectives, customs intelligence services and VAT commissioners to determine what needs to be done to prevent such fraud.
The customs authorities have formed a five-member committee headed by Md Shahidul Islam, co-director at the Directorate of Audit, Intelligence and Investigations of the VAT, to investigate the case.
The committee has already requested details of the bank accounts of the two companies.
Munawar Mursalin, deputy director in the Audit, Intelligence and Investigations Directorate of VAT and member of the investigative body, told TBS: âWe are investigating the introduction of fake tape rolls. We will find out what other organizations are involved in this circle. “
Md Jahedul Kabir, head of the Bandar police station, said the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) was investigating the two cases.
Shahnewaz Khaled, CID’s Chattogram Metropolitan Police (SP) superintendent, said: âWe are collecting various documents and attempts are underway to arrest those involved in the incident.
Tape roll import companies only exist on paper
The official address of Bappu Enterprise has been mentioned as being in the GA Bhaban of Anderkilla in the port city. However, no organization by that name was found at the address.
Abul Kalam Azad, president of the GA Bhaban Businessmen Welfare Association, said there was no organization called Bappu Enterprise in the building.
The address of another importer, Arafat Enterprise, was mentioned as being at Quader Tower in the Jubilee Road area of ââChattogram town.
Bappu Barua and Mohammad Arafat Hossain, owners of the two importing companies, could not be reached on their phones.
In several calls, the number of Md Elias, Managing Director of Modhumati Associates, retrieved from the C&F Agents Association website was found turned off.
On December 14, customs authorities seized the batch of Bappu Enterprise at the port of Chattogram.
A week later, on December 22, Customs found false rolls of tape in a shipment of offset papers brought in by Arafat Enterprise from China.