Bali custom's officials have busted a huge racket involving tens of thousands of cigarette packets with counterfeit excise stickers.
The fraud potentially costing the government billions in tax revenues was uncovered by customs officials at Ngurah Rai Airport who have apprehended four suspects and are seeking another man, believed to be from Malang, East Java.
As reported by The Jakarta Post, authorities began to uncover the case when custom's officials discovered cigarettes circulating in West Bali with either no excise stamps or with stamps that were counterfeit. Undercover officers purchased the bootleg cigarettes, managing to trace the criminal ring through the Jembrana regency to cigarette production facilities in Malang and Jember.
In all, more than 70,000 packs of cigarettes and 30 rolls of forged excise stickers have been confiscated in raids carried out during the operations.
Officials are blaming the surge in illegal cigarettes on the recycling of used cigarette machines used to produce contraband smokes.
The government of Indonesia reaps US$4.7 billion each year in tobacco excise tax.
Raid on Bali Moon
Bali's customs and excise officers have also recently conducted raids on Bali Moon - a popular brand of local liqueurs and alcoholic drinks. According to The Jakarta Post, those raids netted 4,000 liters of undocumented alcohol and 3,500 liters of liqueurs and vodka - seized for failing to have the required documentation.
The press report says that the company has been put under temporary custom's seal and fined Rp. 660 million (US$55,500).
Bambang Wahyudi, the Chief of Ngurah Rai's customs and excise office warned, "I hope local liqueur producers do not run from their responsibility to pay the excise because their products are more marketable now, with the difficulties in importing liqueur."
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