2 Feb 2006

American Samoa senators suggest businesses committing customs fraud

9:21 am on 2 February 2006

Some senators in American Samoa say businesses who pay for customs duty in the territory with bad cheques are committing fraud and will be prosecuted.

This follows a cheque of US$105,000 that an Asian owned business used to pay duty on cigarette imports last year.

The bad cheque belonged to Gold Conda and the company is now making weekly payments to Treasury to pay the money.

The issue came up during a Senate hearing this morning on a bill to increase the excise tax on cigarettes from 12.5 cents to 22 and a half cents.

Senator Tuiagamoa Tavai blamed customs for being weak and businesses were taking advantage of the lax enforcement.

He said businesses may be offering monetary bribes to make customs agents look away.