JOHOR BARU: The Customs Department imposed a prohibition order on April 1 requiring all importers to make customs declarations of goods stored in the Free Zones of ports nationwide.

Customs department director-general Datuk Subromaniam Tholasy said the order was implemented as Malaysia is incurring losses to the tune of billions of ringgit due to leakages in the collection of tax revenue from cigarettes and alcoholic beverages.

He said that based on intelligence reports from the department, syndicates are involved in the storing and smuggling of undeclared alcoholic beverages and cigarettes from Free Zones at ports in Selangor, Penang and Johor.

“One modus operandi of the syndicates is (storing) alcoholic beverages and cigarettes at a Free Zone for (safekeeping), supposedly for export to a third country. But they find an opportunity to smuggle the items into the country.

“This was identified as one of the causes of leakages (of revenue),” said Subromaniam in a press conference at Menara Kastam Johor, today.

He said an operation to check on importers and their items stored at Free Zones at ports led to the Customs Department seizing RM20 million worth of undeclared beer and whisky in 14 containers at the Port of Tanjung Pelepas (Pelepas) near Gelang Patah, Johor, on April 17.

The department also seized 115,200 tins of beer, with unpaid duties of RM896,422.17, from two lorries and arrested its two drivers near the same location on April 22.