Officials Impound Eight Luxury Vehicles to Collect Unpaid Tax

Officials impounded eight luxury vehicles in the past week, including four over the weekend, after the customs department and military police began stopping cars in Phnom Penh looking for vehicles brought into the country without their owners having paid the proper import tax.

The vehicles, which included Lexus SUVs, a Range Rover and a Land Cruiser, will be returned to their owners once they pay the full 100 percent import tax that is due, in addition to a fine of 30 percent of the vehicle’s value, according to Preap Karat, head of the smuggling prevention department in the Finance Ministry’s general department of customs and excise.

“We stopped three smuggled vehicles in [Saturday’s] operation because they used fake number plates and had not paid import tax,” he said.

Mr. Karat and other officials contacted yesterday said they had no information on the identity of the owners of the vehicles.

Customs department spokesman Bou Bunnara said the owners had broken Article 74 of the customs law, which carries a fine of one to three times the amount of tax evaded, confiscation of the goods or imprisonment for between one month and one year.

In addition to having been imported illegally, three of the vehicles confiscated on Saturday sported fake license plates, with two of them using fake military plates.

National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said he did not know how many of the smuggled vehicles had fake military plates.

“But we will see how many vehicles are using the fake military number plates when we inspect the roads tomorrow,” he said, adding that using fake military plates could result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Pov Mally, deputy director of the Transport Ministry’s transport department, said his department was looking into whether the impounded vehicles had fraudulent plates.

“We will send the document to court to implement following the criminal code if we find they used a fake license plate,” he said.

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