Two clearing agents held over extortion

Two clearing agents are under Police custody for allegedly soliciting extra money from a client they had facilitated to clear his vehicle at customs.

Two clearing agents are under Police custody for allegedly soliciting extra money from a client they had facilitated to clear his vehicle at customs.

Eric Mwesigye, the proprietor of Meg Company, a clearing firm, and Daniel Nzabonimana, his employee, were arrested on Monday after the client reported the case to Police.

Police Spokesperson for the City of Kigali, Modeste Mbabazi, said the duo had taken Rwf450,000 from a client only identified as Sebatware, claiming that it was fee for the number plate.

“The laws are clear, and it is important that people read these laws so that they avoid con men. Whenever there is suspicion, alert Police and we will ensure that the public is protected from such criminals.” Mbabazi said.

Mwesigye denied involvement in the con act, claiming that it was his staff who requested the client to give him extra money.

Nzabonimana, the staff member, pleaded guilty, saying they had done that to many clients on Mwesigye’s instigation.

Normally, once a vehicle is imported, a clearing agent has to prepare for a transit document to the national warehouse (Magerwa) in Gikondo, which is validated on arrival. Thereafter, the agent has to declare the vehicle for home consumption (to be used in Rwanda) thereby automatically generating the due taxes to be paid.

The taxes include the value added tax, customs duties, withholding tax, consumption tax and number plate fees.
On receiving the due taxes, the clearing agent has to pay the identified taxes and presents receipts for processing.

This means that the number plate fees are already in the said invoice and there is no need to sideline payment.

The Rwanda Revenue Authority commissioner for customs services, Raphael Tugirumuremyi, decried the fraud.

“We can’t tolerate this behaviour among our partners as it undermines the integrity of clearing agents and portrays a bad image of the taxation environment,” he said.

Besides possible jail term, once proven guilty, the suspects could lose their operational licence as clearing agents.

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