Customs must lodge complaint first- Police
In order for the Police to launch an investigation into anything, an official complaint has to be filed with Ministry of Police.
That’s the response from Police Superintendent, Sala’a Sale Sala’a, to questions as to what action the Police have taken after the Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, confirmed that Customs had confiscated a container allegedly smuggled into the country using falsified documents.
“We cannot do anything unless an official complaint is filed with the Police,” said Sala’a.
It was put to Sala’a that members of the public were concerned that it’s been a month and yet the matter has yet to be settled.
He was asked whether the case has been referred to the Police.
“There are certain cases where we do act without an official complaint,” he said. “However, for the case in which are you inquiring about, because it is a government ministry, we cannot interfere with their procedures, they have to file a complaint before we can actually step in.”
He explained the Ministry of Police cannot act based on a news story.
“Again we have to get an official comment from the said Ministry before we can launch an investigation,” said Sala’a. “I can confirm that we have not received an official complaint from the Ministry of Revenue.
“The Minister can say what he wants to say on the news, but that does not necessarily mean we have to act on it because it’s been published in your paper.”
Last month, Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt said the container belonged to a businessman running a furniture store. He was not at liberty to divulge the identity of the man.
“The red flag arose with the increasing number of containers that had been imported,” he said. “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 Ministry became suspicious, they demanded further information.
“They were never provided by the local business and then we had to step in and to confiscate the containers. By the time we got to the containers there was only one left and we took 2,300 soda cases.”