CUSTOMS and Excise officers believe a lucrative business, involving retired Customs and Excise officers, to import gold jewelry for unscrupulous businesspeople to avoid paying taxes is now a cause of concern.
Officers said the retired workers are being used to buy jewelry and watches which are hidden in false-bottomed boxes, which, after being cleared, are made available to the real purchaser.
On Monday a retired female officer went to the Amerijet Bond section at Piarco and tried to clear a pallet which contained packages. She told her former colleagues it contained household items.
However, they became suspicious and carried out a thorough check of the pallet, also known as a “skid.”
They found household items, but also reportedly discovered a false bottom in one of the boxes containing gold jewelry valued at more than $100,000 and several watches.
These items were not declared by the retired officer. She said she had no knowledge of the items smuggled with her belongings and asked for her attorney to be contacted.
She was questioned for several hours and told she would be charged. She is due to appear before acting Comptroller of Customs Kathy Ann Matthews today.
Senior officers said that only two weeks ago another retired officer allegedly smuggled US$150,000 into the country in a false-bottomed box which he did not declare.
Investigators from Customs and Excise said yesterday similar exercises are planned to weed out the illegal operation.