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A.N.Z. executive in Customs' sights

Top A.N.Z. Samoa executive, Bernie Poort, is in the sights of Customs and Revenue over allegations he owes duties on a boat and a Porsche that were allegedly imported into the country.  

Expatriates who move to Samoa have a two-year exemption on duty for their household effects, after the mandated two years, they must pay the duty. Mr. Poort and his family have been living in Samoa for close to three years.

In response to questions from the Samoa Observer, the Minister of Customs and Revenue Tialavea Tinisio Hunt, confirmed that an extension period had been granted to the A.N.Z. Country Manager for the imported boat and the Porsche more than two years ago.

But that extension period has now expired, according to the Minister and the banking executive is now obligated to pay up.

“The car was supposed to be here for two years and afterwards, the car should be returned to where it came from; otherwise they are obligated to pay the duty taxes," he said.

“Under the law once the two years is up they are obligated to pay the duty taxes otherwise the car/boat should be exported. 

“The Customs are currently working on the paperwork over this matter."

Asked about the vehicle's year of make and model, and if its importing was allegedly in breach of regulations prohibiting vehicles older than 12 years from being imported into the country, Minister Tialavea said that was correct.

The Samoa Observer contacted Mr Poort for comment but he declined.

A statement was later issued by an A.N.Z. Bank spokesperson who said they were working to address the issue. 

“A.N.Z. always seeks to meet our tax and legal obligations in every market we operate in.  “We will be working with independent tax advisors and legal counsel to address any issues raised,” the statement said. 

According to Minister Tialavea, this is not the first time he has used his discretion under the law for expatriates. 

“It does not make sense for expatriates to pay duty taxes on their household effects, knowing they will return after a certain period of time. 

“And that’s why they are given exemptions for a period of two years.” 

The Minister noted that the “extension” of the contracts for expatriates does not come under his authority. 

“They are obligated to pay the taxes after two years,” he added.

Mr. Poort was previously the Chief Executive Officer of A.N.Z. Tonga. 

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