The Irrawaddy

Anti-Graft Panel Files Charges Against 12 Customs Officials

The Customs Department in Yangon

Yangon—The Myanmar Anti-Corruption Commission has filed complaints with the police against 12 officers including three directors of the Customs Department for alleged bribe-taking related to the importation of delivery vans.

The anti-graft body announced on Monday that it had launched an investigation after receiving complaints against customs officials at Yangon Port who had allegedly demanded money from importers to allow for the clearance of the vans.

In addition, the customs officials allegedly took bribes from importers and allowed into the country certain types of vehicles that are banned by the government automobile import supervision committee.

The investigation found that seven customs officials involved in several stages of customs clearance for imported vehicles had received bribes totalling nearly 9 million kyats (USD6,300) for the shipment of five delivery vans.

Moreover, the commission found three directors, a deputy director and another staff officer, assisted or cooperated in the corruption.

The commission on Monday filed complaints with Thilawa Police Station in Yangon’s Kyauktan Township against seven customs officials under Section 56 of the Anti-Corruption Law, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment.

It also lodged a complaint against five others under Section 63 of the same law, accusing them of aiding and abetting corruption.

The Customs Department is overseen by the Ministry of Planning and Finance. In May, Finance Minister U Kyaw Win resigned amid a separate corruption scandal.

The Anti-Corruption Law was enacted in 2013 under the previous military-backed government. But it was rarely enforced until Myanmar’s new President U Win Myint came to power in March this year. In his inaugural speech, he vowed to crack down on corruption and the illegal drug trade, and to reform the country’s weak judicial system. The Anti-Corruption Commission was the first organization he met after his inauguration.

Since then the anti-graft body has been active launching a string of investigations. Its most high profile cases include probing former finance minister U Kyaw Win and the director-general of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for corruption.

Before the latest complaint by the ACC, the country’s President’s Office ordered the Ministry of Finance and Planning in May to launch an internal investigation into a department director who allegedly encouraged his staff to take bribes.