Two World Bank cars with Bangladesh customs following probe on duty dodging allegations
Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
Published: 2017-02-20 14:56:50.0 BdST Updated: 2017-02-20 21:15:32.0 BdST
The World Bank's Bangladesh office has handed over two cars used by its staff to customs officials after investigations started on 16 such cars owned by the global lender's staffers.
The staff members stand accused of evasion of duty.
The global lender says it is fully cooperating with the National Board of Revenuie (NBR) and Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID).
CIID Director General Moinul Khan said an official of the World Bank's Dhaka office on Monday turned over an SUV and a sedan.
They were brought into the country under the Privileged Persons (Customs Procedure) Rules 2003 that allow officials of the donor agencies to import cars without paying any duty if permitted by their mission head.
"It's clear from the turning over of these two vehicles that they have abused the duty-free facility," Khan told bdnews24.com. "We will keep an eye on the World Bank over what measures they take about the remaining 14 cars."
Officials have to inform the customs authorities about the process of handing over their cars while leaving Bangladesh. They also have to provide the passbooks issued by the NBR against the cars.
According to customs officials, 16 World Bank officials brought as many cars of different models in 2006, 2007 and 2009. They have left the country but had not provided the required information on their cars.
Initial investigation revealed that they had handed the cars to persons who are not considered as privileged ones, without paying the duty as per the rules.
On Feb 16, the CIID wrote to World Bank Country Director Qimiao Fan, asking for details of the 16 vehicles.
"We are also reviewing the administrative procedures of the World Bank Dhaka Office to ensure full compliance with national law and regulations," he added.
According to him, the World Bank has provided and met with detailed information on the 16 passbooks and shared transfer documents of 11 vehicles, including NBR's permission and customs clearance to transfer vehicle to another privileged person.
He claimed the World Bank returned 35 passbooks, including nine mentioned in the CIID’s letter, in December 2016 and January 2017.
The World Bank has sought clarification on one name which is 'not in their staff directory'.
The process to transfer the two vehicles submitted to the authorities on Monday was under way after the respective World Bank Group staff members either left the country or the World Bank Group, Fan said.
The CIID move to investigate the alleged irregularities of the World Bank officials coincides with a High Court rule for trying those who had made 'false graft allegations' over Padma Bridge project.
The global lender was asked to withdraw its funding request by Bangladesh government after a stink over corruption allegations.
Recently, a Canadian court published a verdict acquitting three business executives of charges that officials of a Canadian firm had planned to bribe Bangladeshi officials to get contracts in the Padma Bridge project.
CIID Director General Khan said earlier if a privileged person sells such cars to a non-privileged party and takes the money out of the country, he or she will face charges of evading duty and laundering money.
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