Ministry denies report

The Ministry of Revenue has dismissed reports that they have settled the matter where a businessman’s container was confiscated by Customs last month.

Speaking on behalf of the Minister, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, who is not in the country, the Associate Minister of Revenue, So’oalo Mene, said nothing has been settled.

 “Nothing has been finalised yet as negotiations are continuing,” he said. “That is all I can say. The matter has not yet been settled.”

Last month, Minister Tialavea confirmed that Customs had confiscated a container allegedly smuggled into the country using falsified documents. 

At the time, Tialavea confirmed that an internal investigation had been launched to determine what happened and how it happened.

He was not at liberty to divulge the identity of the man.

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One Senior Customs Officer, who spoke to the Samoa Observer on the condition of anonymity, said correspondences had been sent back and forth between Customs and the businessman. 

“The Ministry has written to the Company and they have responded and most likely it will settle soon and the Ministry is still considering taking the matter to the Police for a criminal investigation,” said the Senior Customs Officer. 

As reported earlier, Tialavea said the red flag arose because of the increase in number of containers that was being imported. 

“Usually this company brings in two containers but this time it had increased to five.  

“The manifest indicated the items in the container were furniture but we found out they were not. All five containers were released under the Custom’s Green Lane List.”

When the issue was brought to light, the Ministry stepped in and demanded further information. 

“They were never provided by the local business and then we had to step in to confiscate the containers. 

“By the time we got to the containers there was only one left and we took 2,300 soda cases. We confiscated the shipment from a Chinese Store.”

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