There were signs that some Indian companies in Nigeria are circumventing customs duties and abusing the accelerated policies of the Nigerian customs authorities.
Sunday Telegraph has learned that the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), in line with the ease of the federal government’s business policy, has introduced an accelerated system that allows large volume importers and manufacturing companies to ship their shipments to their warehouses during clearance. The process is ongoing, but the policy learned is being misused by some companies that benefit from the policy.
This happened when Sunday Telegraph learned that most fraudulent importers have abused this policy for years by failing to follow the established procedures that cover the policy. Our investigation even shows that many Indian multinational companies are involved in fraud in the country, which leads to loss of revenue for the government.
He also learned that these companies not only followed the rules of trade policy, but also used them to import non-customs goods.
To facilitate trade, NCS has introduced an accelerated strategy that helps manufacturers and large importers to get their goods out of port easily and unhindered.
The directive stipulates that importers’ goods can be transported from ports to their warehouses while a 100% customs inspection is carried out in the warehouse. It also provides that customs provide container escort services to the owners’ warehouses with full documentation.
A typical example is a chain of Indian companies that are owned by an Indian. All of these companies (suppressed names) are in the fast lane in Nigeria due to their high shipment status and as a manufacturing and packaging company.
However, our research has shown that these companies have long neglected the fast track process, defrauding the Nigerian government of billions of naira in import duties, VAT, and other taxes.
Some of the documents consulted by our correspondent noted that these companies have suffered abuse of customs procedures and tax fraud over the years.
One of these abuses was their delivery on a ship called Autumne with the MAEUA 10383508 waybill in 2016. They brought 4×40 foot containers. The containers are declared as milk powder in jumbo bags.
According to our knowledge, the containers were moved from the port of Apapa to their office in Ibeju Lekki of the company without customs escort, and no 100% inspection of the containers by the customs was carried out on their premises, as stated by accelerated guidelines.
It was also found that the company was not paying exact fees, a trend that has continued for years.
An in-house source also suggested to our correspondent that non-customs goods are sometimes brought in by the company that is not within their jurisdiction.
The source also said that the companies are hiding under the status of a free trade area (FTZ) to further avoid customs taxes that they are supposed to pay to the federal government.