Barbados Customs Used Car Seizures – Enforcing Law or Monopoly?

UPDATED – Scroll Down 

A Barbados Free Press reader sent this to us just a few minutes ago (noon Friday 9th)…

Dear Sir

I have noticed that you are steering clear of the situation where the Comptroller of Customs is holding on to the vehicles of poor black people in the port and not releasing them.

This is as a result of the established car dealers falsely claiming that there is "underinvoicing" which no one at present is able to substantiate.


Dear Reader,

We haven't been "steering clear" of this issue – we just haven't had the time to really look at it – although the idea has been tossed around at a few of our drinking parties editorial meetings. It would be appreciated if you could send us a page or two on how you see the situation, and some of the specific indicators you might be aware of that would support your position.

We will then do a little more research and try to do the story justice.

Many thanks for your interest in our work.
Marcus & the gang.

UPDATE: Saturday June 10, 2006 12:43am

CBC Reports "Customs Loses Appeal"

Here are some excerpts. See the link above for the full report…

The Barbados Court of Appeal has upheld a High Court decision ordering the Customs Department to release a number of imported vehicles held in the Bridgetown port since last year.

Lawyers for the Crown Senior Counsel Anika Jackson and Hanoman Singh filed the application for a stay of execution to allow the Customs Department to keep the vehicles in the port.

They have been arguing that they need more time to carry out their investigations and were asking for a six week stay while they continued to investigate an alleged under invoicing scam involving some importers of used vehicles.

The session lasted for over two hours before Sir David confirmed Madame Justice Kentish's order for the vehicles to be released upon the payment of a guarantee.

The matter first arose after the importation of eighteen Toyota Trucks by the Belleville based subsidiary of Mohammed Motors said to be worth one point six million dollars.

The Customs Department has refused to release a number of these vehicles since December last year.

In all used car importers are contending that they have at least three hundred vehicles held up in the port valued at over 12 million dollars.

Partner with Shazar Distributors Dr. Abdul Mohammed says the action has resulted in significant losses for his company. He says he has had to lay off thirty-seven people because of the impasse.


Filed under Barbados, Business, Crime & Law, Island Life, Politics & Corruption

11 responses to “Barbados Customs Used Car Seizures – Enforcing Law or Monopoly?

  1. ross

    I heard a different story.

    My understanding is that the proof of underinvoicing was so clear that the Customs could not do otherwise than seize the vehicles. I also understand that the underinvoicing was going on for a long time and the Government of Barbados lost tens of millions in duty. Seems it was mostly on used cars for a while at first.

    What exposed it, I am told, is that the underinvoicing importers got a little too greedy and started bringing in brand new cars and the prices could be readily determined from the internet.

    Seems the legitimate dealers who were paying the correct duties etc. could not compete and brought the matter to the attention of Customs long time ago but nothing happened.

    Looks like the Government will never recoup the duties owed to it and the traffic problems are terrible.

    How this managed to go on for so long?

    Anybody know what is the true story?

  2. BFP

    Thanks Ross

    We will see if our friend sends us any further information


  3. John

    The Government of Barbados seems to feel itself hard done by as it has appealed a decision of Madame Justice Elneth Kentish which has ordered the Customs Dept to release the vehicles to the dealers once they pay in a sum of money as a bond, pending investigation by Customs.

    Radio reports yesterday indicate that Sir David Simmons in The Court of Appeal upheld Madame Justice Elneth Kentish’s decision and once the money is paid Customs must release the vehicles. Unfortunately it was unclear as to whether the full panel of Justices sat.

    It will be interesting to watch the legal proceedings unfold in this matter. The Government, as an aggrieved party can appeal Sir David’s decision. Obviously if it feels as it should if Ross’s version of events is correct it will go to the ends of the earth to obtain justice.

    We wait with bated breath.

    Thank heavens we have the CCJ where it is so inexpensive to seek justice for the small man, black or white.

  4. John

    Thanks for the CBC link. The Nation seemed to have nothing today. Looks like the hearing was conducted in chambers so the press would probably have been barred.

    Here is the extract from the CBC article. “The Crown’s legal team and attorney Ralph Thorne who represented Shazar Distributors appeared in chambers before Chief Justice Sir David Simmons this morning”. CBC must have depended on a press release.

    Ross man, if you are right, all hell should break loose as Owen has to find $135-160 million to pay for CWC by next year. To lose tens of millions won’t get by an economist of his stature who has promised to move heaven for CWC.

    I have a feeling you are exaggerating though, it can’t be no tens of millions. Impossible.

    Anyway, time will tell.

    If this ends up at CCJ then I will start to feel you might be right.

  5. ross

    Anybody know how duty is calculated on vehicles?

    What % do you think is the average duty on the $12 million in vehicles now in the Port? How many cars may have been imported and underinvoiced? With duty more than 100% in many cases, it would depend just how underinvoiced the cars could have been.

    I hope somebody who knows what really happened will enlighten the public.

    By the way, how many of the imported vehicles belong to poor black people? The names mentioned in all the newspaper articles I have seen do not sound like the names of poor black Bajans to me.

  6. The Trash Heap

    Nassco was the cause of all of this confusion from the start. Nassco imported the new Hilux standard accessories base engine and was selling these trucks for over a hundred grand. Yes maybe with the cost they bought the vehicles at, the duties paid and off course their huge markup they could justify their price. Now Shazar Distributors imported the Hilux Vigo from Thailand with the accessories 3.0L Landcruiser engine the works and was selling these trucks around 85 grand maybe a bit more or less. The Indian man from Belleville was selling a better vehicle than Nassco for less, so of course the powers that be decided to squeeze the Indian man’s balls as requested by Nassco. If you do a check they could have landed the newer Isuzu DMAX with the more Chevy front cut, the new Mitsubishi Triton AKA L200 which by the way Simpson is still selling the aged model for a lot less than the distributors so as you can see Customs, Nassco and Simpson were like they would say trying to nip it in the bud. No one has the balls to say it but Simpson and Nassco destroyed the used car dealers with the help of Customs over the years. Some destroyed themselves with stupidity but a few legitimate dealers got squeezed out of business. The policies developed by limiting the age of vehicles combined with making it harder to get a loan through the banks for these vehicles would obviously make buying a new car more attractive.

    The Trash Heap has spoken.

  7. John

    It is good to get these things out in the open.

    Shine a light and watch evil shrivel and die.

  8. John

    Trash Heap

    Customs is an arm of the Barbados Government.

    It, the Barbados Government, appealed a decision of the High Court in an action brought against it.

    It must feel it is an aggrieved party and this particular importer is at fault.

    There has to be more in this than what you are presenting.

    Just two questions before you disappear into the sunset.

    Do you know if any MPs or close associates are involved in the used car trade?

    Are you saying Nassco and Simpsons directed Government in its decision to appeal this specific matter?

    Something is not right here.

    If Government lets this drop having gone so far as to appeal, this is going to stink.

    Time will tell how aggrieved the Government of Barbados really feels.

    We wait with bated breath.

  9. thank god bailey anit got kids

    bailey should leave the people cars and check de one he get from white corp. and the jeep from nasco.

  10. dealer

    The big companies have been underinvoicing for years have you read what has happened recently. New information showing how low nassco was getting vehicles cleared at and want to then stick it to the poor man.Do you understand nassco was clearing vehicles cheaper than year 2002 used vehicles and then selling them for about 30 grand more.Lol.Bajans need to wake up and stop standing for foolishness and stand together and put these businesses in the place that they can;t go destroy small businesses because they competing well.For years nassco was importing carburated corollas up to year 2000 corollas were carburated and with wind up windows.Used dealers were importing 95 vehicles with power everything and fuel injected.Nassco has been hitting black bajans for six for a long time also to go along wid that undervaluing vehicles that come from japan to run them out of business.I think this valuation system is silly.U shouldn;t be forced to go to them for a toyota valuation mainly because they could do what they like.

  11. SB

    If the vehicles of poor black people in the port and not releasing them is true. If they are so poor then how are they importing vehicles.

    What does that have to do with race either?

    Seems to me no matter what your color you are customs can do as they like. Lets move on from this race thing guys.