Third World Bank car with Bangladesh customs amid duty dodging probe
Staff Correspondent bdnews24.com
Published: 2017-02-26 12:54:22.0 BdST Updated: 2017-02-26 17:03:10.0 BdST
The World Bank has handed over another car to Bangladesh customs investigators probing allegations of evading duties. Two of the other sixteen cars allegedly in violation of customs law had previously been handed over to investigators.
An official from the World Bank’s Dhaka office brought the car and its documents to the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID) on Feb 22. The car was confiscated on Sunday after a perusal of the documents.
“The official also handed over a letter from World Bank Country Director Qimiao Fan,” said CIID Director General Moinul Khan. “The letter assures their cooperation in the investigation.”
A World Bank official named Nehal Fernando used the Toyota sedan, Khan said. He worked at the global lenders Dhaka office as a senior rural development specialist between April 2008 and December 2010.
“He imported the car for personal use duty-free during his stay in Bangladesh,” said Moinul Khan. “But he did not turn the car and its passbook into customs before leaving the country. This violates customs law and is a punishable offence.”
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.
In a statement to the media, World Bank Country Director Qimiao Fan said his office was working closely with the investigators.
“We have taken steps to trace the status of all outstanding passbooks issued to World Bank staff, and the whereabouts of the vehicles bought under the passbooks.”
He said the transfer of the vehicle handed over on Sunday was “under process after the respective World Bank Group staff left the country.”
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.
On Feb 20, in an email reply to bdnews24.com queries, Fan said the World Bank is 'committed' and will continue to 'fully' cooperate with the NBR and CIID to address any non-compliance issue.
"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 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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