New revelations have emerged on the Customs multi-million dalasis car tax evasion case, Freedom Newspaper can reveal. Some Gambia Revenue Authority officials stationed in Farafenni have been acting in concert with some Gambian local car dealers to smuggle imported cars that have been cleared from the port of Dakar, Senegal, into the country without paying the required taxes to the state. The Gambian state has been defrauded millions of dalasis worth of taxes from the said cars tax evasion scandal.
Among the Customs officials questioned by the police’s Serious Crime Unit in Banjul include Bai Nyass, the head of the Customs station in Farafenni, his Deputy Yusupha Cham, a native of Sukuta, Abdoulie Jallow, Customs officer, and Pa Jagne, another customs officer. The officers were questioned and released.
Police say also questioned was one Tauru Jah, a local Gambian car dealer. When Jah’s home was raided by the investigators, they found fake license plate disc and other fake vehicle documents at his house.
Jah told the police that he had been clearing imported cars from the port of Dakar since 2017. He would transport the cleared cars into Banjul through the border post of Keur Ayib to Banjul. He is often aided by corrupt Customs officers to evade taxes.
Police investigations had revealed that Jah had brought over 50 cars into the country in the month of July. Customs officials would require him to pay them D10,000 dalasis so that he would be allowed to enter the country without paying the necessary taxes that the state is supposed to receive from him.
The car importation scam is a huge one. Jah is not alone in this organized economic crime. Police said other car dealers were also questioned and released.
Some Gambians living in the diaspora have been using the Dakar port as an outlet to ship cars to Banjul. They said it is much cheaper to clear shipped cars in Senegal, compared to Banjul. In Dakar, they are only required to pay shipment clearing fee. They are exempted from paying other customs control fees since the cars are on transit.
A highly placed police source said when the police patrol team intercepted the five trafficked cars, Bai Nyass, the head of Customs in Farafenni, had telephoned Momodou Sowe, the officer Commanding the North Bank Division to solicit his intervention so that vehicles would be allowed to cross to Banjul. Sowe was said to have interceded and they were allowed to leave.
One of the patrol officers phoned CMC Demba Sowe, and reported the incident to him. Sowe then ordered them to escort the impounded vehicles to Banjul, which they did. The vehicles are currently parked at the police headquarters in Banjul.
The case of the Farafenni Customs officers is still pending for police investigations.
A police insider told Freedom Newspaper that he is not convinced that something meaningful might come out from the Farafenni economic crime case.
“We are appealing to the media to keep an eye on this case. The state has been defrauded millions of dalasis. These people should have their day in court. If you guys do not write and talk about this case, it might be brushed under the carpet,” said one officer.