Home » Maritime » Vessels seized due to oil smuggling

THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) recently seized two vessels allegedly involved in smuggling bunker fuel.

The MV Chelsea and MT China Venture were caught spiriting out of the Manila's North Harbor a bunker oil shipment worth at least P60 million. The vessel owners will face a P10-million tax evasion charge.

Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez said operatives from the BOC's Run After The Smugglers (RATS) Program found the crew of Chelsea in the process of pumping oil into China Venture on January 17. About 59,000 liters of diesel oil and 5 million liters of lube oil worth about P50 million were transferred.

Customs Deputy Commissioner and RATS Program executive director Gregorio Chavez said the vessels' officers failed to produce evidence of payment of duties and taxes for the subject oil shipment.

Bunker oil loaded onto a foreign vessel is tax free but when loaded onto a domestic vessel, in this case China Venture, is not.

Since Alvarez took over the BOC in July 2011, the agency has stepped up its anti-smuggling campaign in a bid to arrest dwindling revenues.

BOC will likely miss its 2011 collection target of P280.68-billion after cash collections amounted to only P227.7 billion, way below the goal of P241 billion.

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