2,000 luxury cars 'smuggled' into port

Buyers said to pick them up without paying tax

Almost 2,000 luxury cars have been smuggled into Thailand and stored at Laem Chabang port in Chon Buri's Si Racha district, a source at the port's Customs Office revealed on Sunday.

The cars were kept in the port's zones designated for storing the dangerous goods of private companies, the source said.

Some cars had disappeared because their importers had already sold them to customers and promised to pay the import tax later.

In some cases, the importers sold their imported cars at a price relatively lower than that it should be given the high import tax impost, the source said.

As a result, these cars could not be registered while the buyers refused to return the vehicles because they had already paid the money.

In the end, the buyers would have to find another way to get their imported cars registered, the source said.

Those cars have not been declared for tax clearance. They were just left at the port so the Customs Department cannot do anything yet. About 90% of luxury cars in Thailand were not imported legally, the source said.

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI), meanwhile, raided several spots and seized 126 luxury cars for inspection on Sunday.

The first place raided was Auto Art Service Co on Lat Phrao Road that did not appear to have the capacity to reassemble luxury cars as it had claimed in its registration papers.

The second spot was a used-car showroom on Ekkachai Road in Bang Bon district while the third raid was carried out at JDP Fibreglass Product Co in Nakhon Pathom's Buddha Monthon district.

The fourth place was a house on Chaeng Watthana Road in Nonthaburi's Pak Kret district and the fifth spot raided was a condominium in Sukhumvit.

The last spot was Chakkrawat police station where one Ferrari had previously been seized and handed over to the DSI.

DSI chief Tarit Pengdith said the department will meet five state agencies today over a joint operation to verify about 9,962 luxury cars suspected of having been imported illegally.

The five organisations are the Customs Department, Excise Department, Thai Industrial Standards Institute, Central Institute of Forensic Science, and Land Transport Department.

Out of the 10,000 cars to be inspected, 6,862 cars have been registered while about 3,000 cars were pending registration and the other 100 cars are imported cars priced at more than 4 million baht, Mr Tarit said. He also said some senior state officials, politicians and a well-known Buddhist temple abbot in Samut Prakan whom he had mentioned earlier as owning a luxury car suspected of having been imported illegally had since contacted the DSI and insisted their cars were legal products. These people probably were not involved in illegal car import activities but they simply were innocent buyers, Mr Tarit said.

In Surin, immigration authorities were seeking cooperation with the Customs Department and the Suranaree Special Task Force to strengthen security at the border to prevent owners sending smuggled luxury cars across the border to Cambodia during the crackdown.

Related search: luxury car scandals, Customs Department, DSI

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Writer: King-Oua Laohong & Nopparat Kingkaeo