BVI News

Brokers, importers discovered in ‘duty-free’ Customs fraud scheme

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By Davion Smith, BVI News Staff

A number of local importers and Customs brokers have been implicated in connection to a recently launched scheme to defraud Her Majesty’s Customs and, by extension, the Government of the Virgin Islands.

According to Commissioner of Customs Wade Smith, the aforementioned persons have been ‘doctoring’ invoices and other Customs documents in order to import items into the territory without paying Customs duties.

Following the 2017 hurricanes, government had initiated a temporary policy in which certain items imported into the country was exempted from Customs duties.

That exemption ended on March 31. However, persons who had purchased goods before that date have until June 30 to ship those items into the territory duty-free.

Smith said, since then, persons were changing dates on certain documents to reflect a purchasing date prior to March 31.

“We’ve noticed dates being changed on bill of sales and other invoices to be submitted to Customs.”

“But, the Customs Automated Processing System, which is our automated system for electronic submission of entries, was able to detect and identify fraudulent activities and, since then, a number of importers and Customs brokers who submitted or falsified documents to submit to the Customs department were penalised,” Smith said in an interview.

He said one importer, in particular, was penalised $15,000 for fraudulent submission of documents.

The Customs brokers who aided that offender in submitting fake documents were also slapped with penalties of their own, Smith reported.

According to Section 116 of the Customs Duties and Management Act, a person who falsifies a document required by Customs, knowingly accepts or uses a falsified document, or alters a document after it has been officially issued has committed an offence, and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $20,000, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years, or both.

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15 Comments

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  1. Albion says:

    Those fines feel very low to me. If people can potentially evade hundreds of thousands in duty, then of course they will happily take the risk of a $20,000 fine. They should be fined in proportion to the amount of duty they attempted to defraud Customs out of.

  2. hmmm says:

    more wrongdoing in the corrupt BVI’s. Go standalone, in order to better yourselves.. SMH

  3. TurtleDove says:

    Fines plus taking their freedom is what’s needed…….what have we come to….

  4. Retired says:

    This news article is too vague on the facts. Please provide the person/business names of the local importers and brokers that were penalized and/or fined under section 116. I would prefer not to do business with these fraudulent persons/businesses.

  5. CW says:

    Hahahahaha typical BVI. And to think so many want to LEAVE THE UK!!!!! the only people actually catching criminals and stopping corruption is the UK. Without them the BVI will succumb to corruption like this. Another day, another corrupt 15 cents. If they put this much effort into figuring out how to capitalize on financial market transparency instead of fleecing their countrymen, you fine folks might actually be ahead.

  6. Wondering says:

    Why charge duty for any items for hurricane Irma or Maria?
    So many are suffering trying to do repairs with too little money. I went to St. Thomas and spent $2,000. On light fixtures and was forced to pay duty, and this was in January 2018… Why is the BVI government punishing poor people, with duty?

  7. Knowledge says:

    Readers who don’t understand you can also be charge three(3) times the value of your goods also so imagine you shop 100,000 think before you act, can you now pay 300,000

  8. don't say nothing says:

    his man is so right ‘ I went st Thomas and spend $1’600 on galvalume the amount a duty them charge me omygod ‘the gov killing
    poor people’ your house damage ‘ you should not pay duty on the material to rebuild ‘ it’s a SHAME BVI GOV

  9. To don't say nothing says:

    The government give six(6) months duty free which they really didn’t had to do.but they did it anyhow please be grateful and not ungrateful. This country has to rebuild and we need that money.you also didn’t had to pay the begining of yearly tax. Please be grateful.this is our country I want to see a better virgin islands.

  10. Rubber Duck says:

    Rich people who could repair their buildings and so on without having to wait for the insurance money benefitted greatly. They also imported plenty of new vehicles tax free. For poorer people who have to wait for greedy inefficient insurance companies to pay out, the opportunity has passed. Shameful.

  11. Nasty Co says:

    Insurance companies who have not paid out agreed claims by June 30th should be made to pay the duty on items imported by the customers they have cheated out of the opportunity to import duty free.

  12. Lol says:

    Don’t want to pay duty but the prices still high

  13. Concerned says:

    Most people did not receive any insurance money before 31st March, probably only the upper crust did. So the duty-exempt again has only been for a certain few. To don’t say nothing – what beginning of yearly tax are you talking about???

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