PETALING JAYA (The Star/Asia News Network): Several syndicates are forging the Customs Official Receipt (COR) and siphoning out hundreds of millions of ringgit in revenue that is due to the department.
The syndicates, fronted by forwarding agents, churned out fake receipts that are almost identical to the genuine ones.
The department has now formed a special taskforce to track down these syndicates, department director-general Datuk Seri T. Subromaniam said.
He said the taskforce was looking at more than 100 forwarding agents that have been found forging Customs receipts for import and export companies.
The taskforce include members from the National Revenue Recovery Enforcement team headed by the Attorney-General, the police, Bank Negara, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Inland Revenue Board.
"We are not ruling out the involvement of company officials as well as internal involvement (of Customs officers).
"Some of these import and export companies are also cheated in the process," he said.
Subromaniam said for example, the transaction value could be at RM1 million and the company would pay the forwarding agent the duty for this sum in good faith and receive the forged COR.
"But to Customs, the agents would forge documents and declare lower value or other items which carry lower duties," he said.
Subromaniam added that the forging activities were discovered through audits done by Customs.
"When we audit the books of some companies and check against the collection in the system, it doesn't tally, so we had to claim from them.
"However, the companies claimed that they had paid the duty and even produced the COR. But the CORs are forged ones," he added.
The COR issued, said Subromaniam, looked "exactly similar" to the genuine ones issued by Customs.
"The unfortunate thing is the current Customs system is old but once the Ubiquitous Customs (uCustoms) system is complete, then they (companies) can check easily," he said.
The uCustoms is a fully integrated solution for goods clearance, which will replace the existing Customs information system.
Subromaniam urged companies to download the recently launched mobile application to check Customs tariff, Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Duty Finder.
The mobile applications will help companies check the actual duties, tariff and GST that need to be paid and the payment that has been made to Customs.
"I want to put a stop to this and with the mobile application, it will be transparent. We expect a boost in revenue, and we can recoup the money we have lost for umpteen years due to such forgery," he said.
Subromaniam said the taskforce had already identified and charged a few individuals involved in such syndicates.
Others are being investigated.
Companies should lodge a report with the Commercial Crime Division of Customs if they suspect something amiss or have been cheated by such syndicates.