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The Central Intelligence Cell (CIC) of National Board of Revenue (NBR) is investigating import of vehicles by five big importers to unearth a possible scam over a sudden influx of imported vehicles at Chittagong Port.

An NBR official familiar with the investigation told the news agency that of the five importers three are based in Chittagong while two others in Dhaka.

“We are now investigating from two aspects--- one from income tax and another from customs duty,” the CIC official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation process.

The NBR has launched the investigation to find out whether there was any import of brand new cars through Chittagong seaport undercover of reconditioned vehicles just before the national budget.

In the proposed budget, the government has reduced supplementary duties from 60 percent to 20 percent on import of ordinary non-luxurious microbuses within the displacement capacity from 1500 CC to 1800 CC, which are used for transportation of industrial raw materials and passengers.

According to the sources, a special ship, “MV Lilac Ace”, from Japan, carrying 1,988 vehicles, mostly cars and microbuses worth around Tk 200 crore, arrived at Chittagong seaport just before the announcement of the new budget.

The CIC team has already collected necessary papers of the selected importers, the official said, adding that the officials are doing their homework before going for a detailed inquiry.

The CIC official said that from income tax aspect they would examine details of the importers' income tax payment and their total capital.

“For example, if we see that their total capital is Tk 1 crore, but they imported vehicles worth Tk 10 crore it means they have not declared their total money in the income tax documents,” he said.

Asked about the importers' bank loans, he said the rule is that a bank would provide 70 percent of the amount that one stated in the time of L/C opening.

“Now calculate that 70 percent of the Tk 10 crore, it is Tk 7 crore. That means you have to pay Tk 3 crore at least from your own pocket”, he added.

“But the importer in his tax documents has given statement ok Tk 1 crore, which means there is something fishy,” the CIC official said.

On the other hand, in the light of customs duty the investigating team will look at the selling prices of vehicles over 1600 cc.

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