Finance chief orders Customs to work with AMLC on dirty money probe

Robie de Guzman   •   March 2, 2020   •   1188

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez on Monday, March 2, ordered the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to closely coordinate with the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) in probing alleged attempts by syndicates to bring in large sums of foreign currency into the country.

Dominguez issued the order in response to the BOC report about several attempts by individuals and groups to sneak in copious amounts of dollars and other foreign currency into the country using travelers arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The DOF said Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero estimated in his report that $370 million or around P18.74 billion were brought into the country by two groups, identified as the “Rodriguez” and the “Chinese” groups.  

Guerrero said that through backtracking and monitoring, the bureau learned that the Rodriguez Group brought around $200.24 million or around P10.18 billion while the Chinese group was able to sneak in $167.97 million, equivalent to about P8.54 billion.

The bureau further found that the Rodriguez group had declared Excellent Forex Inc. as the recipient of the money which entered from July 2019 to January 2020.

The Chinese group, meanwhile, brought its stash from December 2019 to January 2020.

The BOC also found that couriers of the money are paid between P12,000 and P50,000 per flight which happens almost twice or thrice a week.

The bureau said couriers of the money are able to escape detection because they are escorted by police, military or airport officials.

“Alarmed by the foregoing circumstances, considering the apparent intent of the said groups to bypass the country’s banking system and its prevailing regulations, this Bureau coordinated with and brought the matter to the attention of the AMLC,” Guerrero said in his January 29 report to Dominguez.

“Since then, this Bureau and the AMLC remain in close communication regarding this concern. The NICA was likewise apprised of the said facts,” he added.

The BOC chief has recommended the creation of an inter-agency body to keep a tight watch on the inflow of foreign currency into the country through the country’s ports and to recommend measures to deter the use of these funds for illegal activities.

This concern has also been raised to members of the Congress “as possible basis of policy changes on the protocol to be observed regarding hand-carried foreign currencies passing through our airports.”

“Given the global threat of terrorism, organized crimes, money laundering and the possibility that such foreign currencies find their way to such unlawful activities, it is respectfully recommended that an inter-agency body be established through a presidential directive, purposely organized to monitor the continuous inflow of foreign currencies by individual couriers, profile the personalities involved and the recipient thereof, and recommend measures to ensure that such sums of money will not be used in any illegal trade or activities,” Guerrero said in his report.

Under Philippine laws, any person is required to declare any amount exceeding $10,000 or its equivalent to other foreign currency being brought into or out of the country.

P3 million worth of smuggled onions seized in Cagayan

Robie de Guzman   •   October 19, 2021

Two containers filled with onions allegedly smuggled from China were confiscated at the Port of Cagayan de Oro, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said.

In a news release on Monday, the BOC said the containers were seized last October 15.

The shipment, which was consigned to South Road Consumer Goods Trading, arrived in Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT) Sub-port in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.

The BOC said the containers were declared to contain “frozen malt” but was later found to be onions when subjected to physical examination.

The bureau said the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS-CDO) Field Station led by IO1 Oliver Valiente was alerted of the shipment after receiving derogatory information for possibly containing smuggled goods.

A Warrant of Seizure and Detention was already recommended for issuance against the smuggled shipment, it added.

Atty. Elvira Cruz, District Collector of the Port of Cagayan de Oro commended the vigilance of the customs personnel against smuggled vegetables which have been affecting local farmers as the influx of cheap agricultural products in the market significantly reduce their income.

Last September, the BOC said the Port of Cagayan de Oro destroyed P13.5 million worth of smuggled onions from China.

BOC seized P4.80M worth of smuggled cigarettes

Maris Federez   •   October 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Tuesday announced that the elements of its Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) and Enforcement and Security Service-Customs Police Division (ESS-CPD) intercepted two motorized wooden watercraft on Friday (Oct. 8).

The BOC said the operation was conducted in coordination with the Philippine National Police’s 2nd Zamboanga City Mobile Force Company (PNP ZCMFC).

The two watercraft, locally called “Jungkong”, were loaded with assorted smuggled cigarettes with an estimated value of ₱4,795,000.

The Customs said that during the interception, the watercraft with body mark M/V Mernalyn Z was found to be loaded with more or less 50 master cases of assorted smuggled cigarettes.

Another watercraft with the body mark M/J AZ-ZHAHIR was loaded with an estimated eighty-seven (87) master cases of the same smuggled articles.

In total, 137 master cases of smuggled cigarettes were seized from both vessels, according to the BOC.

Customs authorities said the watercraft and smuggled cigarettes shall be subject to seizure and forfeiture proceeding under Section 1113 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA). —/mbmf

BOC seizes over P29 million worth of unregistered medicines in NAIA

Robie de Guzman   •   October 4, 2021

  

MANILA, Philippines – Boxes of medicines without clearance from the local Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were seized at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the Bureau of Customs said.

In a statement, the BOC said its operatives at the Port of NAIA confiscated a total of 146,640 boxes of medicines with an estimated value of P29,328,000 in Paircargo. The packages reportedly came from Hong Kong.

The items were subjected to Pre-Lodgement Control Order and physical examination after the bureau received a derogatory report about the shipments.

“In the course of the examination, the shipments were found to contain boxes of Lianhua Qingwen Jiaonang, traditional Chinese medicine regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” the BOC said.

Efforts to locate the shipment’s consignee turned futile, and reportedly can no longer be found in his given address as attested by concerned Barangay authorities, it added.

The BOC said the seized medicines will be subjected to seizure and forfeiture proceedings for violation of Section 1113 (Property Subject to Seizure and Forfeiture) in relation to Section 117 (Regulated Goods) of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), and the Food and Drugs Act.

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