Stolen vehicles from Australia and New Zealand have been seized at Lautoka Wharf in a big car racket.
The Fiji Revenue and Customs Service intercepted the vehicles imported by agents here to be resold.
FRCS Chief Executive Officer Vishvanath Das confirmed in a statement that, “Over the past week, two motor vehicles that were reported stolen in New Zealand were smuggled into the country under the guise of spare parts and furniture, but were intercepted at Lautoka Wharf by Custom officers.”
A big racket
Interceptions of the same nature were also made by Customs officers in 2018 for stolen vehicles imported from Australia.
Mr Das said that the cars were part of a big racket.
“Evidence is being gathered in what is beginning to look like a highly connected network of individuals working within organisations with intent to make money from proceeds of criminal activity,” he said.
In one case, the criminals waited more than a year before shipping the vehicles to Fiji.
In the latest incident, investigations into the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) revealed that a Toyota Hilux which was registered as a rental car in New Zealand was reported stolen on December 8, 2017, while the Nissan Navara which was registered as a private vehicle in New Zealand was reported stolen on December 4, 2018.
“The accused importer is reported to be a frequent traveller and is known to have travelled to New Zealand between December 7 and December 12, 2018 just a few days after the vehicles was reported stolen.
“The shipment left Auckland on December 20, 2018 a week after the suspect returned to Fiji to clear his consignment.
“Border Security is serious business and a collaborative approach is being taken with both local border agencies and international Customs Administrations globally to crack down on illegal activities. Under our Customs to Customs Cooperation arrangements intelligence sharing has intensified and we no longer work in isolation,” Mr Das said.
“While the Service is committed to facilitate trade, rest assured that with the processes, systems and partnerships in place at the Border we will detect and intercept illegal activities and when we do offenders will face the full brunt of the law,” he added.
Reproduced under a Special Arrangement with the Fiji Sun.
Fiji Revenue and Customs Service CEO Vishvanath Das (Centre) with his colleagues