Saga of tax evasion by Chinese companies continues in Bangladesh

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The saga of fraudulent activities of Chinese companies in Bangladesh (BD) does not seem to cease. The Chinese companies trading in Bangladesh have been continuously engaging in tax evasion and smuggling of items ranging from cigarettes, alcohol, among other items. The unscrupulous behaviour of Chinese companies is causing heavy loss to the exchequer of Bangladesh.
In the latest incident, the BD authorities seized a container imported by Chinese company ‘Zong Sine Textile Industries Limited’. The declared item in the container was supposed to be textile dye stuff; however, when the container was opened, it was found to be filled with around 900 packages of foreign cigarettes. Had the container passed undetected, it would have resulted in loss of around Tk. 7 crore to the Bangladesh government. This is not the first time that foreign brand cigarettes have been smuggled into Bangladesh. In an earlier case of illegal import of foreign cigarettes, Tianye Outdoor (BD) Co Ltd (TOCL), a subsidiary of Chinese company Comefly Outdoor Co Ltd was found to be involved (Feb, 2022) in tax evasion and tax fraud to the tune of BD Taka 21 crore and 57 lakh. During routine physical inspection, the BD officials had recovered high duty foreign cigarettes from consignments which had otherwise been declared to contain cotton yarn from China. Chinese companies somehow find ways to circumvent the laws of the land and export prohibited/concealed items to Bangladesh. In July 2022, a major consignment from China containing over 2700 cartons of foreign liquor was confiscated on the Chittagong-Dhaka highway in a special operation by Bangladesh (BD) authorities that prevented revenue loss of around Tk. 60 to 70 crore to the Bangladesh government. In another case of smuggling of prohibited items, the BD law enforcement agencies had recovered 19 tonnes (788 packets) of Sodium Cyclamate (SC), concealed under the label of Soda Ash Light in May 2022. The consignment had originated from CNTAO Qingado Port, China and arrived in Chittagong. SC is basically one type of condensed sugar, which is 30 to 50 times sweeter than the ordinary one. The consumption of SC increases the risk of contracting cancer. Earlier in January 2022, a Chinese company Digi Anti Fake Company had reportedly supplied counterfeit bandrolls (a thin ribbon wrapped on bidi and cigarette packets) resulting in fraudulent tax evasion of BD Taka 250 crore for Bangladesh. The company was also found involved in printing counterfeit Bangladeshi passports, ballot papers, national identity cards, birth registration certificates etc. Chinese companies suffer from a poor image of corporate ethics. There is always a question mark on their integrity. The multilateral financial institutions, especially the World Bank, are also keeping an eye on their functioning. Though Beijing projects itself as a reliable economic partner, its activities are fraught with corruption and criminality.