... with other Sovereign Custom Houses in the region ...
Customs clamps down on contraband from Panama
BY INGRID BROWN Observer senior reporter [email protected]
Friday, November 12, 2010
JAMAICA Customs has signed an agreement with Panama, Guatemala and Belize to share information about goods originating from these countries as it moves to clamp down on fraudulent invoices and contraband getting into the island.
Danville Walker, the commissioner of customs, said the agreement should help to better protect Jamaica's borders.
He said, too, that the agreement, signed last week, "will assist each other in doing investigations on invoice prices between countries".
Walker said Jamaica was already getting tremendous support from the United States Customs as well as Homeland Security in clamping down on under-invoicing, but for the first time having a formal relationship with Customs from Panama, a country from which several goods originate.
"...So if we have invoices we believe are fraudulent or other information on contraband that may be coming from Panama to Jamaica we will be able to seek the assistance of Panamanian Customs, through their intelligence operations to help us with our investigations," Walker told the Observer.
Jamaica, he added, also had the support of Guatemala and Belize, noting that goods often leave from those countries to Panama en route to Jamaica.
Walker, who was speaking recently at the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce Annual Customs Seminar in Kingston pointed out that prior to the agreement it was very difficult to receive information from Panama.
"In the past... (when) we call Panama (there was) not a soul helping you. I have had people tell me to my face 'we are not going to help (you)'," he said.
Meanwhile, Walker warned that importers who continue to under-invoice or misrepresent the items being imported will be hauled before the courts and their goods seized.
Pointing to a recent case in which 11 people were taken before the court for conspiring to defraud Customs of revenues for several barrels of Clarks shoes, Walker said Customs will continue to see that such persons are made to pay.
"Where we find these things happening we are going to pursue it relentlessly," he said.