AG wants Customs to account for million$$ in seized goods

The 2012 report of the Auditor General has taken the Customs and Trade Administration to task over its delinquency in making available for audit, files containing details of several consignments of seized goods.

In his 2011 report the Auditor General says that the Customs Department has, up until now, been unable to provide the Audit Office with 73 out of 774 files containing details of seizures of goods carried out by Customs between 2005 and 2010.

The report says seven of the files which involve goods valued at tens of millions of dollars pertain to seizures effected in 2005; 22 pertain to goods seized in 2006 and 14 pertain to goods seized in 2007. A further 2 files pertain to goods seized in 2009, 15 relate to goods seized in 2009 and 13 to goods seized last year.

The Auditor General’s report says the protracted delay in processing seizures “can result in the deterioration of related goods and subsequent loss of revenue.” The Auditor General’s report indicates that “amounts totalling in excess of $66 million were collected in additional duties and taxes, fines conveyance and sale of seizures respectively.”

While the Auditor General’s report urges the Customs and Trade Administration to “continue to expedite the processing of seizures and to locate and present all outstanding files for inspection,” a Customs source told Stabroek Business that at this stage the Auditor General “is simply going through the motions”. The Customs and Trade Administration, the source said, “is probably not even in a position to locate either the files or the entire seized consignments.

“Bearing in mind that some of the goods were confiscated as much as seven years ago there is no telling where they might have ended up. In some instances you might locate part of a consignment, depending on what it is. In cases of perishables, the consignments may simply not exist anymore,” the official said.

The Customs and Trade Administration has also been cited by the Auditor General for failing to comply with procedures that require the department to open and close files for incoming vessels within 48 days of their arrival here.

If files remain open at transit sheds beyond that period a report must be prepared stating the reasons for incompletion.

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