On Wednesday, 27 March 2013, Vice Prime Minister HE Fernando
Lasama de Araujo made a site flash inspection to the Dili Port to see in loco
and verify findings of illegal items by the National Customs recently, in
February and March 2013. Mr. Lasama was accompanied by Vice Minister of
Finance, HE Santina Cardoso and Minister of Transport and Communication HE
Pedro Lay and other relevant government authorities. The team saw several
containers that were seized by National Customs officers and are waiting for
investigations by competent authorities. The containers that were identified
for containing illegal items are: 1) CLHU
9084365, was inspected and seized on 19 February; 2) RYU 9320841, was inspected and seized on 22 February, 3) RDYU 9096259,
4) CAIU 8070351 and 5) FSCU 9646813, the last three were inspected and seized on 8 March, and 6) PRYU 9502770, was inspected and seized on 14 March.
The containers were seized because they were suspected by Customs
staff of loading /containing items that are not same as what were declared in
the importers’ manifest documents. As such, the customs staff opened the
containers and found several types of vehicles inside of containers instead of
items like furniture and construction materials as declared in the documents.
Three importing companies are suspected to be linked to this illegal
activity and have falsified manifest documents regarding the content of these
containers, hence will be submitted to investigation process by competent
Vice PM Lasama reiterated that the GOTL will take stern measures
to deal with this kind of actions. Anybody who is involved in this crime will
be submitted to the criminal investigation, without exception, including public
servants, according to the law in force. He encouraged staff to always work
without fear, and advise them not to hesitate and to immediately inform
competent authorities to properly deal with such kind of illegal activities. He
thus indicated that this has been one of hindrances for increasing domestic
revenues in the country. Mr. Lasama also asked the VM of Finance, the DGRC, and
the Minister of TC to deeply investigate possible linkages and networks with
other agencies relating to these practices.
During the site inspection,
the National Director of Customs Brigida da Silva told the journalists about the
reason of seizing the containers, such as: 1) the containers came from Japan
through Hong Kong at high cost instead of coming from neighbor country like
Indonesia; 2) the importers took 8 days to change/revise the manifest (normal
time is 1 day/24hours). She also informed that 3 companies are suspected to be
held responsible such as: 1) Marcalas (Timorese), under investigation, 2) Sky
Development and 3) City Auto, both from Singapore are to be investigated soon.
Vice Minister Santina also informed that Customs have seized 50
cars, some of which are in bad conditions and nobody has come to claim their
ownership to these vehicles.