Customs seizes illicit cigarettes worth RM2.2 million

The illicit cigarettes seized by customs at the Labuan Port.

PETALING JAYA: The customs department has foiled an attempt to smuggle illicit cigarettes into the country with the seizure of two 40-foot containers filled with cigarettes at the Labuan Port.

In a statement, customs deputy director (enforcement and compliance) Johari Alifiah said the documentation for the containers indicated that they contained cigarettes.

However, the items were suspected of being contraband or lacking the necessary approval.

“It was declared as imported cigarettes from a Southeast Asian country. Early investigations indicate that the importer did not have an import licence approved by the customs director-general,” he said.

According to him, the containers arrived at the port on July 9.

An estimated 20.4 million cigarettes worth about RM2.24 million were seized, with unpaid taxes amounting to RM14.45 million.

Johari said two companies and one forwarding agent were identified as being involved in making the false declarations for the containers.

“Several other individuals suspected of being involved have also been tracked down to assist in the investigations.”

The case is being investigated under the Customs Act 1967 and the Customs Regulations 2019 for involvement in the importation of illegal items, which carry fines of up to 20 times the amount seized or RM500,000, whichever is larger, and a jail term of between six months and five years or both for the first offence.

For second and subsequent offences, fines can reach up to 40 times the amount seized or RM1 million, whichever is higher.

Jail terms meanwhile range from six months to seven years.

Under the Customs Regulations 2019, meanwhile, the punishment for importing cigarettes without a licence is a fine of not more than RM50,000, a jail term of up to one year or both.

The department urged those with information on smuggling activities to contact its toll-free hotline at 1-800-88-8855 or the nearest customs office.

“The customs department gives our guarantee that the identity of every informant is kept secret,” it said.