Monday, 25 November 2019

CAR SMUGGLING RACKET : IMPORTERS PUSH FOR DEADLINE EXTENSION


 Motor vehicle importers who are embroiled in a smuggling racket which is alleged to have prejudiced the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) millions of dollars by avoiding customs duty have requested for an extension on the deadline for them to avail the cars to the tax collector.

In a notice published last week, the tax collector ordered hundreds of car importers to report at its head offices no later than last Saturday with the listed vehicles for “registration verification” and also avail import documentation for the vehicles.

The tax collector is investigating a scam in which it suspects to have lost millions of dollars in a tight-knit vehicle smuggling scam which was a result of either Zimra officials conniving to undercharge customs duty for the import of such vehicles or outright incompetence by these officials.

“The Commissioner-General of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority is hereby notifying the owners of vehicles listed below to visit Zimra loss control offices at ZB Centre corner First Street and Kwame Nkrumah in Harare for vehicle registration verification,” reads the Zimra statement released yesterday. 

“The vehicle owners are instructed to bring the vehicle together with all customs clearance documents pertaining to their vehicles not later than November 23, 2019,” said the taxman.

In response, the importers through the Pre-Owned Car Dealers Association of Zimbabwe (POCDAZ), have written to the tax collector requesting that the due date be extended as some of them are resident out of Harare and that some of the vehicles in question had since been sold hence the need to liaise with the new owners.

“We write to inform you that our clients are not all presently in Harare and they are still in the process of bringing the requisite paperwork and documentation,” wrote the importers through their lawyers Gunje Legal Practice.

“We therefore kindly seek your indulgence to extend the deadline to Friday November 29, 2019,” reads their letter a copy of which The Herald Finance and Business has had sight of. 

The Herald has been advised that, the scam which ran for several years, has left Zimra employees exposed on how they processed “Custom Clearance Certificates” for the motor vehicles in question despite them not paying the correct prescribed customs duty.

There are also questions on how staff would calculate customs duty below the prescribed rate. Sources within POCDAZ have also confided in this publication that Zimra could be set for a “big pay day” as a decision has been made by the association that all those that will be found to have benefited from the under declarations should settle their obligations with Zimra. Herald

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