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Suriname: ‘Corruption in customs deep-seated’

Corruption in the customs corps is so institutionalized that only a horsepower such as the resignation of all customs officers may possibly render this service healthy. For example, an ex-customs official who opens a booklet about corrupt practices that have been taking place for decades. The country is robbed in such a way through the agency of customs that it is estimated that only about 20 to 30 percent of the actual value of import shipments of import duties in state treasury flows. “The misconduct of customs officers costs the State billions.”

It is concluded that crime organizations are also deeply infiltrated in the customs service. The ex-customs officer indicates that almost every customs officer is involved in unlawful practices in one  way or another, or is kept out of hand by wrong colleagues if he or she wishes to remain in the service. “I was not a cookie either, because the system makes you get involved at some point.” The one lends itself to economic crimes, while the other provides hand and sports services to criminal organizations that transport large numbers of cocaine out of the country via the Nieuwe Haven. The veteran argues that in the past 20 to 25 years, successive governments and finance ministers have admitted that the Surinamese customs have “become the most corrupt customs corps of the region”.

They did not have the political will and courage to put the knife deep in order to make the corps so healthy that it could make a greater contribution to the State’s income. As a result, the government has been disadvantaged for billions in recent years. Import duties are evaded in life, cigarettes and alcohol smuggling are grown and there is under-invoicing on a large scale. Joyce de Vlugt, chairman at the Douanebond, certainly denies that customs officers cooperate in the evasion of import duties and other unsavory matters. “If there is evidence, you have to come up with the evidence”, she says.

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