PONTIAN, March 22 — Two men, a Myanmar ship captain and a Singaporean crew member, were today accused of smuggling a whopping RM47.1 million worth of cigarettes into Malaysia earlier this month.
The two, 55-year-old captain Myint Aung and crew member Seah Tien Lye, 48, pleaded not guilty to the charge read out in English before Magistrate Nur Azzuin Abdul Moati.
According to the charge sheet, the two had smuggled various brands of cigarettes aboard a cargo ship, the MV Chita, located three nautical miles southwest of Pulau Kukup here at 8.15pm on March 8.
The cigarettes brought aboard were subject to import taxes but had not been cleared by the Customs Department. Among the brands seized were U2, Ran Bold, D-Gi Full Flavor, D-Gi Menthol and LA Light and Red.
The contraband cigarettes are believed to be the largest seized to date.
Both men were jointly charged under Section 135 (1) (d) of the Customs Act 1967 read together with Section 34 of the Penal Code which is punishable under Section 135 (1) (iii) (aa) of the same Act.
Under Section 135 (1) (a) of the Customs Act 1967, those found guilty of being in possession of illicit cigarettes can be fined not less than 10 times the amount of customs duty and not more than 20 times the amount of customs duty or sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding three years or both.
Magistrate Nur Azzuin set bail at RM20,000 each on the condition that both accused can secure two local sureties, surrender their passports to the court and report to the nearest police station every Monday until the case is completed.
Nur Azzuin also set April 21 for the mention of the case.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Dewi Jasmine Amalina Ahmad prosecuted, while the accused were represented by lawyers Mohd Hamizi Mohd Yusof and Ahmad Khairuddin Khalid.
The contraband cigarette seizure was reported to have undertaken by marine police.
Bukit Aman Internal Security and Public Order Department director Datuk Seri Abd Rahim Jaafar said on March 10 that over 7,000 boxes of contraband cigarettes were found on the ship off Pontian, and had estimated them to be worth RM52 million.