$99mil duty unpaid for smuggled cigarettes last year

JOHOR BARU - Smuggled cigarettes, with unpaid duty to the tune of RM254mil (S$99 million), were seized across the country last year.

The confiscated cigarettes involved some 510 million sticks worth about RM42mil, said Customs director-general Datuk Seri Khazali Ahmad.

He disclosed this at a press conference after closing the joint "Patkor Kastima 19B Operation" with Indonesian authorities at the Customs complex in Sungai Pulai, Tanjung Pelepas, 36km from here, yesterday.

The operations started in Batam, Indonesia on Sept 2.

Khazali said that so far this year, Customs had seized some 310 million sticks of contraband cigarettes, amounting to about RM26mil and unpaid taxes worth RM163mil.

"To curb smuggling and human trafficking, we have been working with authorities from neighbouring countries to conduct operations," he said, adding that the department had recorded more than 2,300 cases of cigarette smuggling along the coast.

"The department's duty is to look out for illegal activity at ports and rivers," he said.

Meanwhile, Indonesia's Customs and Taxes director-general Agung Kuswandono said that the "Patkor Kastima 19B Operation" helped to foster better relations between the two countries aside from curbing smuggling activities.

"During the month-long operation, we monitored some 1,500 activities and conducted 400 checks.

"Of these, we have reported five cases that included illegal possession of sharp weapons," he added.

Also present were Singapore Customs director-general Lee Boon Chong and Johor Customs director Datuk Ramli Johari.