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Roberts Accuses D’Aguilar of Customs Fraud

Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Bradley Roberts uncovered official documents to support his accusation against Free National Movement Freetown candidate Dioniso D’Aguilar for falsifying invoices for the purchase of washing machines.

Yesterday, Roberts released a statement claiming that in 2013, D’Aguilar falsified invoices from Whirlpool Corporation in Benton Harbour, Michigan.

Roberts, who also provided copies of invoices as evidence to support his accusations, said D’Aguilar knowingly and fraudulently altered the original invoices issued by the Whirlpool Corporation on a shipment of 27 commercial washing machines.

“The alterations included freight costs, customs duties, processing fees and environmental levies,” Roberts said. “The duty entry with the declared value of the imported goods submitted to the Bahamas Customs Department by Super Wash totaled $104,853.90.”

However, D’Aguilar defended the accusations and explained that at the time of the purchase, his company, Superwash, decided to use a new customs broker who he described as “an individual supposedly just getting into the business”.

An invoice of the goods was submitted to the individual electronically to prepare and submit the entry, he added.

“Payment was made to the broker for what the company was told was the full amount of the customs duty and the equipment was released to the company,” D’Aguilar explained. “Shortly, thereafter, the company learned that the broker had significantly altered the original invoice before it was submitted to customs and underpaid the duty.”

The Superwash owner said the company was the victim of a fraud by an unscrupulous broker and the loss was significant.

“Superwash was required to pay again for the duty not paid by the broker as well as a fine,” D’Aguilar said.

D’Aguilar further explained that in 2015, Superwash imported 210 washers, with a value of $625,000.

He added that a duty rate of 45 percent was applied when the duty rate should have been five percent.

As a result, D’Aguilar claimed that Bahamas Customs owes his company more than $230,000.

“The company will be applying for its credit shortly!” D’Aguilar said.

According to Roberts, an astute customs officer sensed that something was wrong with D’Aguilar’s invoices and made the necessary inquiries to obtain the correct invoices from Whirlpool Corporation which totaled $183,195 and the correct customs duty was assessed at $183,195.

“Had the intervention of the officer not been made, the importer would have defrauded the Public Treasury of $35,253.45,” Roberts said.

“I am advised that D’Aguilar was fined $15,000 for submitting a false declaration, but under the Customs Management Act, he could have been fined up to three times the value of the correct invoice which equates to $540,000,” Roberts explained.

“He signed the requisite Bahamas Customs Form No. C52 ‘Request for Compounding of an Offence’, which is an admission of fraud to the Bahamas Customs Department. The document was executed on January 29, 2014.”

The PLP chairman also pointed out that he takes “no glee or pleasure in disclosing this information which clearly paints D’Aguilar as corrupt, greedy, dishonest and with a penchant for double speak.”

“He declared net assets of a whopping $29,341,093, but with forethought and deliberateness, caused for the falsification of three invoices and then the submission of the same to the Bahamas Customs Department to further enrich himself on the backs of struggling Bahamians who struggle to pay their taxes every day.

“Mr. D’Aguilar declared $1,260,000 in personal income annually. This is disgraceful.

“By his actions, Dionisio D’Aguilar has out rightly disqualified himself for the honourable office he seeks. I call on the good people of Freetown to reject Dionisio D’Aguilar on May 10, 2017 as he is not a fit and proper person to sit in the honourable House of Assembly,” Roberts said.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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