Luxury cars on auction road
The Customs Department plans to continue with auctioning 4,000 seized luxury cars next year after the process was halted following the Land Transport Department's refusal to register the vehicles.
To pave the way for the auction, the state agencies together removed modified cars from the auction, said Krisada Chinavicharana, director-general of the department.
The department suspended luxury car auctions in 2017 after the Land Transport Department noted that some cars put on sale by the tax-collecting agency were modified with imported parts that were assembled in Thailand to avoid high tax bills.
Before the previous bidding took place, Customs had asked for assurance from the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) that the cars put under auction were not considered modified cars.
The DSI's crackdown on luxury car importers in 2017 resulted in the impounding of more than 300 cars from dealerships across Bangkok.
The Land Transport Department, however, earlier refused to allow cars bought at the Customs Department's auctions to be registered, due to suspicions that some dealers had imported untaxed completely built-up cars (CBUs) and deliberately allowed the Customs Department to impound the vehicles in an underhanded plan to legalise these cars at cheaper cost than import duties.
These importers removed some important devices to make engines malfunction and discourage others from joining the bidding, enabling them to buy back these vehicles at low prices, Mr Krisada said, adding that the department has taught them a lesson by destroying seized luxury cars that do not have key equipment.
Registration applications for 20-30 cars were rejected by the Land Transport Department. The owners of these cars have filed complaints against the Customs Department.
If the court rules in favour of the car owners, the Customs Department might use the proceeds arising from the new auction round to repay them, Mr Krisada said.
He said 90 out of the 4,000 confiscated vehicles have proved not to be modified cars.
The Customs Department will continue the inspection process to gather at least 200 cars and bring them to auction.
Each auction normally fetches between 500 million and 1 billion baht for the government.