TUMPAT, Nov 25 — The government lost about RM90 million in unpaid duties this year as 1,800 vehicles were brought into the country illegally.

Royal Malaysian Customs Department director-general, Datuk Seri Paddy Abdul Halim said the vehicles were seized across the country through various operations conducted by the agency from January till yesterday.

“The vehicles were initially brought into the country without tax exemption on a temporary basis, but some syndicates and individuals used various tricks to avoid paying duties.

“The vehicles were then sold at a lower price to customers, and it was in violation of the law, as they do not have valid ownership grants and road tax stickers,” he told a press conference at the Pengkalan Kubor Customs office, here, today.

He said among the tricks used were changing the licence plate number, as well as forging the grant and the vehicle’s chassis number.

“Most of the vehicles were brought in from Singapore, and the syndicates changed the original licence plate numbers to Thai plate numbers.

“We also suspect the involvement of insiders and further investigation will be conducted on this matter. However, no suspects have been arrested so far,” he said.

Paddy said in Kelantan alone, the Customs Department had seized 111 vehicles this year worth RM2.8 million, with tax losses amounting to RM3.8 million.

He advised the public not to trust anyone who offered imported cars at cheap prices, as these were likely to be cloned cars.

“The public can check with Customs to ensure the vehicle purchased is legal,” he added. — Bernama