5 rice importers probed for smuggling
MANILA, Philippines – Five firms are now being investigated by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for allegedly smuggling 75% of the 200,000 tons of rice imported into the country without permits in 2013.
These companies include Bold Bidder, Starcraft, Intercontinental Drains, Medaglia de Oro and Silent Royalty, Customs Chief John "Sunny" Sevilla disclosed on Thursday, February 20.
Sevilla said that Starcraft, Bold Bidder and Silent Royalty are now subject of heightened monitoring. The 3 secured court orders that prevented BOC from seizing their imports.
Starcraft is a company reportedly linked to alleged big-time smuggler Davidson Bangayan, a.k.a David Tan, who now faces a perjury complaint for lying about his identity under oath.
Sevilla also added that initial investigation showed bureau personnel might be involved in the illegal importations. Importing without permit is smuggling, he said.
"Yes, now we're looking at personalities inside the bureau. Tandaan n'yo walang import transaction ang makakapasok sa PH na walang nagpro-process informally. Kung may kalokahan mangyari, may kasabwat sa loob, so we want to hold our own people accountable," he explained.
(Yes, now we're looking at personalities inside the bureau. Remember that no import can enter the Philippines without someone informally processing it. If anything illegal happens, there's an insider cooperating, so we want to hold our own people accountable.)
Sevilla explained that the imports of the 5 companies did not have permits based on National Food Authority records. He said it was possible that the firms presented fake permits. – Rappler.com