Customs agent arrested for falsifying documents

Frozen chicken parts worth RM1.031mln that were seized at Bintulu Port.

BINTULU: A Customs agent was arrested for falsely declaring RM1.031mln worth of frozen chicken parts, which were imported into Sarawak without permit, on Nov 11.

Sarawak Customs director Herman Shah Abdullah said the arrest was made after a Customs team from Kuching successfully thwarted an attempt to smuggle in 250,500kg of frozen chicken parts at Bintulu Port, around 10.55am on Nov 11.

The items were found in 40-foot containers during the operation codenamed ‘Ops Undikar’, in collaboration with the department’s Zone 6 intelligence centre and land operations branch.

Early inspection found 16,700 cartons of various frozen chicken parts in 15-kg packages, estimated to worth RM1.031mil with unpaid tax of RM412,000.

“The items have been seized and brought to the Customs enforcement store in Bintulu. The agent who declared the goods was also arrested to facilitate investigation,” Herman said in a statement.

Herman revealed that the Customs agent had on him six sets of forms, declaring that the six containers contained frozen mackerel, frozen squid and frozen tuna, which are non-dutiable goods and not subjected to import restrictions.

“The false declaration was done to trick Customs officers, but it was foiled during the operation. Items such as frozen chicken wings, frozen chicken tails and frozen chicken leg quarters are subjected to Customs (Prohibition of Imports) Order 2017.

“The importer is also suspected of trying to evade the need to apply for an import permit and wanted to avoid paying the duty import, which is 40 per cent of the total value of goods.”

Import of chicken commodity is subjected to Details 1(1) Third Schedule, Part 1 of the Customs (Prohibition of Imports) Order 2017 whereby the importer needs an Import Permit issued by the Sarawak Veterinary Services Department.

In this case, Herman said the importer did not have a legitimate permit, and the goods were also not attached with a halal certificate issued by the Halal Certification Board approved by the Malaysian Department of Islamic Development (Jakim).

The case is being investigated under Section 133(1)(a) of the Customs Act 1967 for false declaration, which carries a maximum fine of RM500,000 or not more than 20 times the amount of unpaid duty (whichever amount is bigger) or a maximum jail term of seven years, or both, upon conviction.

Herman also appealed to the public to help Customs to fight smuggling activities, especially involving cigarettes, liquor, firecrackers, drugs and vehicles, advising them also not to engage in such activities.