Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Imported second hand car dealers face taxman’s squeeze

An investigation by the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) into the going on inside the imported second hand car industry has revealed that the trade is used as a front for drug peddling and money laundering.

In a bid to put the squeeze on the shady industry, the taxman will not release over 4200 imported vehicles that were seized in Mogoditshane until the car traders pay or make an arrangement to pay huge sums of money owed to BURS.

The tax collecting agency recently concluded an investigation on 80 car-dealers and at least four Customs Clearing Agents who have been involved in tax evasion through car dealership.

Following the conclusion of the investigations, BURS is estimated to claim back over P60 million as part of the monies to be paid by the car dealers who understated the Value Added Tax (VAT) and Customs Duties of over 4200 imported vehicles.

It emerged last week that BURS officials have since submitted their investigations report to the Department of Public Prosecution (DPP) for possible criminal charges against the four clearing agents.

The tax agency also ordered over 80 traders to amend their declarations by the week ending 25th September 2020. BURS also imposed a penalty charge of 200% on the traders for undeclared VAT and Customs Duties.

Sunday Standard has seen a copy of a letter written to some of the traders by BURS General Manager – Compliance, Kaone Molapo informing them about the taxman’s decision.

“Subject to the payment of the outstanding amounts or making such other arrangements to pay as may be appropriate to the Commissioner General to ensure the payment of the said debt, the affected motor vehicles shall be released to the company”, reads part of the letter written to the car traders by BURS.

Meanwhile Sunday Standard has also learnt that BURS investigators have since established that the motor vehicles were imported into Botswana in violation of the key requirements of the Customs Act including section 99.

Section 99 of the Customs Act, makes it an obligation to traders to make accurate disclosure of all particulars in a customs declaration and the payment of involved Customs duties and taxes.

A source close to the investigations said this week that key amongst other findings by BURS’s eight months long investigations was that some of the car dealers are involved in some other illegal activities. The second-hand motor vehicle businesses, mostly owned by Nigerians, Sri Lankans, and other foreign nationalities is reported to have been a haven of illegal activities especially money laundering and drug dealing.

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The Telegraph October 28

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 28, 2020.