Customs Uncovers Smuggling Of Alcoholic Beverages

The Authorities of the Bureau of Customs & Excise, Ministry of Finance says it has uncovered with dismay and bewilderment, the illegal importation and or smuggling of alcoholic beverages into the Liberian market.

In a statement issued yesterday in Monrovia, the Bureau said the preliminary report indicates that certain individuals and entities are engaged in the acts of defrauding Government of legitimate taxes on alcoholic beverages by falsely declaring or under-declaring.

The Bureau named two cases being followed at the moment that include an individual allegedly importing spirits (alcohol) under the disguise of personal effects under one of his many organizations registered and then selling under the name of another. “We have made efforts to locate his warehouse but have so far not succeeded. This individual is still making frantic attempts to sell these illegal commodities in the Liberian market,” Dixon W. Seboe, Acting Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs & Excise told newsmen in Monrovia.

“The second case involves a registered business importing alcohol but under-declaring the quantity and price and therefore not paying the proper duty. This entity doesn’t perform with BIVAC pre-shipment inspection on its imports but rather chooses destination inspection because of the opportunity to connive with some unscrupulous customs examiners to complete his smuggling ring,” Mr. Seboe said.

He said in order to break this ring and bring these individuals and entities to book, the Customs administration has decided to take several steps which include that the following customs officers are suspended with immediate effect, pending the outcome of the full investigation.

Those suspended include, Gifty B. Bendu Coke and C. Zulu Karlor. The Bureau has with immediate effect ordered the Monrovia Liquor Store to halt the sale of any alcohol pending a full accounting of its inventory.

Seboe said the Customs administration will institute a “double locking system” on the warehouses of Monrovia Liquor Store until this exercise is completed and that anyone buying spirits from Royal Gold or any company associated with Royal Gold will be doing so at his or her own risk as the entity has not legally imported any spirits or alcohol into Liberia.

The Bureau has at the same time requested the owner of Royal Gold to report to Customs administration and make full disclosure of how he imported alcohol into the country and where his warehouse is located.

Mr. Seboe added that effective November 1, 2013, absolutely no alcoholic beverage or spirit will be allowed into the Liberian market without BIVAC pre-shipment inspection and that in addition to BIVAC pre-shipment inspection, all alcoholic beverages or spirits will be considered high risk which will require 100% inspection in the port and released on the approval of the office of the Commissioner of Customs & Excise.

Meanwhile, the authorities of the Bureau of Customs and Excise say it remains vigilant in the discharge of its duties of protecting the revenue of the country and anyone who tries to defraud the Government and people of Liberia will be pursued and brought to book.