>PETALING JAYA, MALAYSIA - Federal Territory Customs and Excise Department officers made their biggest bust this year when they foiled a syndicate's attempt to evade paying nearly RM2 million in duties for imported beer and whisky. Two men were detained and four containers were seized at West Port in Port Klang at 3.30pm on Thursday.
The two, aged 25 and 35, were the lorry driver and a forwarding agent.
Department director Jalilah Mahdan said officers stopped a lorry with a container going out of the port after their scanner detected something amiss.
The team later scanned three other 12m-long containers at the port and called in a representative from a forwarding company in Shah Alam handling the consignment to witness the spot check.
"The contents of the containers differed from what was declared. They were supposed to carry car parts, used engines and used furniture.
"Instead, we found 10,332 cans of locally brewed beer and 229,452 bottles of liquor," said Jalilah at the Federal Territory Customs headquarters here yesterday.
She said the beer cans were stamped "brewed for export/duty free", indicating they were brewed locally. The liquor bottles had no tax stamp and were from overseas.
"Checks revealed the containers arrived here from Singapore. We believe the beer was shipped to Singapore and then re-shipped to Port Klang."
She said the beer was not meant for local consumption except for sale at duty-free zones such as Langkawi and Labuan.
Jalilah said the contraband was worth about RM1.2 million.
"The beer and liquor can be sold at a cheaper price here. Discotheque and karaoke bar owners usually buy them as the dim lighting in their premises makes it harder for our officers to check for stamp-duty markings."
She said the destinations for the goods on the declaration form were also false.
Jalilah said the driver was released on Customs bail in two sureties after his statement was recorded while the forwarding agent had been remanded.
Investigations revealed that the syndicate had always dealt with the forwarding agency over the phone.
"We are tracking down the mastermind."