x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Customs officer's 'Dh19m tax forgery'

A Dubai Customs officer helped a technology company evade Dh19 million worth of duties by falsifying more than 30 documents, a court hears.

DUBAI // A Dubai Customs officer helped a technology company evade Dh19 million worth of duties by falsifying more than 30 documents, a court has heard.

The Emirati A I, 31, was charged with intentionally harming Government interests, forgery and the use of forged documents.

Company executives M R, 26, a Syrian, and K P, 22, an Indian, were charged with forgery, use of forged documents and aiding and abetting a crime along with D H, 28, a Pakistani and S J, 31, N C, 30, and LM, 32, who are all Indian.

Records showed A I forged all the documents and planted them in the customs excise clearing system to allow Dh381 million worth of computer products into the UAE without the duties being paid, prosecutors said. The offences, allegedly committed during 2008, were discovered by the Customs Intelligence Unit during a spot check.

"We went to check on products that were cleared and handed to a computer spare parts and mobile-phone technology company and discovered that they did not exist," said Marwan Ali, who heads the unit's investigation department.

"After further investigation we discovered that the documents related to that company and the products in question had been edited to change the names of the importers and recipients," he said.

A customs officer told prosecutors that enquiries turned up no records of any transactions done by the companies in question except one, which was later discovered to have been forged.

"When we confronted A I with the investigation's outcome, he denied any part and claimed that he entered the amendment after he received a phone call asking for help," the officer said.

A letter presented by customs to prosecutors explained that the defendant, along with the other defendants, had forged the documents to show the products as being intended for re-export. A I then produced other documents that showed the items as having been cleared to be released into the local market to evade taxes.

The defendants denied the charges. The case will resume next month.

amustafa@thenational.ae