Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) has arrested nine Customs Clearing Agents and an importer for allegedly forging invoices to fraudulently clear motor vehicles at Songwe Border Post in Karonga.
Mzuzu Magistrate Court has since granted bail to the arrested individuals but investigations are continuing and more arrests are imminent.
The arrested Customs Clearing Agents are suspected to have connived with some importers and some MRA officers to use false invoices with the aim of paying to government less duty than what was payable.
Director of Tax Investigations, Steven Kajombo, said in a statement issued on Monday: “In pursuit of our mandate to counteract fraud, we have put a strong investigation, ICT and legal team using latest technology to swiftly and effectively detect and bring to book any such fraudsters and any person who aided such illegal transaction.”
According to the Customs and Excise Act, it is an offence for an importer, an agent or owner of the goods being imported to use or attempt to use documents or invoices that have been forged, falsified or framed so as to deceive the authority.
The authority is also investigating MRA officers involved in the fraudulent clearance of the vehicles.
MRA’s Head of Internal Affairs, Mcsyd Chalunda said MRA places a high value on integrity and does not tolerate cases of fraud involving its members of staff.
“Any member of staff involved in such malpractices shall face disciplinary action which may include summary dismissal in accordance with MRA’s Conditions of Service,” Chalunda said.
MRA has since issued a fresh appeal to motor vehicle importers to insist on the use of original documents and check the authenticity of clearance documents.