Customs Officers Unions and the law-abiding motor vehicle importers strongly suspect a serious wrongdoing concerning the immediate suspension of a massive revenue fraud inquiry of over a billion rupees initiated by the Deputy Director of Customs, Athula Lankadeva, Colombo Telegraph learns.
Some insiders believe that the head of the investigating team has been bought over by those involved in this massive fraud, with a payment of a huge bribe. Meanwhile, some others suspect that the investigation into the fraud was stopped not as a result the bribe to an investigating team but as a direct intervention of the person holding the office of the Director General of Customs, Jagath P Wijeweera.
Colombo Telegraph’s undercover investigation has resulted in startling revelations, which we can now reveal for the benefit of the readers.
According the team responsible for the investigation into the fraud this inquiry came to a standstill due to an apparent deal entered into between the fraudsters and the DGC Jagath Wijeweera. Certain officers alleged Jagath Wijeweera had entered into a deal 10% (100 million rupees) of the total revenue defrauded in this organized revenue fraud.
In this case, the investigation carried out so far, the Head of the Team, Lankadeva, has successfully established the following.
- The organized fraudsters (including a leading commercial bank) have made false declarations of the value of over 300 vehicles (cars of the make of Mercedes, BMW and Jaguar imported mainly from the UK) for the purpose of collection of levies (only 70% of the value of the vehicle had been declared for Customs purposes), a fraudulent act of defrauding of the government revenue.
- The main suspect taken into Custody (the head of the marketing division of a leading commercial bank) had confessed to the Customs investigators that the balance 30% has been remitted to the shippers, having recorded it as ‘local charges’ collected from the buyers of the vehicle. Whereas that 30% also forms a part of the transaction value on which duties should have been paid. The said 30% of the value undeclared has been transferred to the shippers abroad by unlawful means, a clear act of willful defrauding of government revenue.
Colombo Telegraph’s undercover investigation into this abrupt end of the fraud inquiry hits the right target. We managed to discover the overwhelming evidence about the direct abuse of office by the Director General of Customs, Jagath P Wijweera. We can reveal that the DGC has stopped the investigation into this fraud on 12th August 2013, with a clear order to DDC, Lankadeva, to stop the investigation forthwith. He also ordered Customs officials to stop seizing of any vehicles involved in this massive revenue fraud.
As per the investigators this order is manifestly flawed and unlawful for number of reasons. The primary duty of any officer appointed (in terms of the Section 2 of the Customs Ordinance) in the Customs Department is to collect and protect the government revenue, a power vested in them by the parliament. This power cannot be taken away or denied by any executive act of intervention for whatever the reasons and the DGC’s deceitful act is completely contrary to his duties under the Customs Ordinance. Furthermore, the collusion with the government revenue fraudsters is a punishable act under the Customs Ordinance (Section 137), where any such officer that connives with the fraudsters to deny government revenue be rendered incapable of serving in the public service.