Police Unit on Revenue Protection Unit (RPU) and Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) have seized 645 smuggled boxes of liquor. These belong to Nkusi Godfrey, with a tax value of 70 million Rwandan francs.
Boxes contained various 11 brands of wines and spirits that had been fraudulently taken out of the Customs stores. They include Black and Red labels, Martini, Sheridan’s, Moet & Chandon, and Mouton Cadet, KWV (Merlot), Courvoisier, Cinzano, B&G, Smirnoff and Dragon’s Back. According to Raphael Tugirumuremyi, commissioner for Customs, the smuggler had evaded taxes worth 70 million Rwfs.
“The fraudulent acts were conducted as the owner was clearing the goods from our stores, where he under-declared the actual quantity. The goods were intercepted before being delivered to the stores of the owner, for physical evaluation, where we discovered the fraud,” Tugirumuremyi.
“Some of the goods either had no tax stamps or were concealed inside other boxes. Investigations are still underway even on previous records to find out if there were no similar fraudulent means in his businesses before. We also have to know all implicated persons: the businessman, store keepers and clearers. We need to know why verifiers hadn’t noticed it, and whether there is no complicity of our staff”, he added.
According to CSP Sam Bugingo, the commanding officer of RPU(Unity to fight fraud and smuggling), Nkusi had initially declared 1245 boxes at Dar es Salaam port in Tanzania. “He, however, declared only 600 boxes at customs in Rwanda. This was realized few minutes later following credible information from an informant. We intercepted the two trucks that were taking the goods to their stores, and after thorough verification, we realized that 645 boxes had not been declared,” said CSP Bugingo, adding that they have impounded the car and the goods.
“In such a case, the East African Community Management Act, which we use, is very clear on penalties,” he said. In its article 199, the driver is slapped a fine of US$5000 while the vehicle and the goods are auctioned.
And under article 369 of the Rwandan Penal Code, the offender faces a penalty equal to the evaded tax. A taxpayer who is guilty of tax evasion shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of at least three (3) months but less than six (6) months and a fine equal to the evaded tax.
Jean Baptiste Karegeya