Beautiful Virgin Islands

Thursday, Dec 01, 2022

Customs issues $40K fine to misleading charter agent

Customs issues $40K fine to misleading charter agent

Commissioner of Her Majesty‘s Customs, Wade Smith, disclosed that a Pasea-based local agency was recently handed a $40,000 fine for deliberately misleading a charter vessel, among other things.

Smith said the agent instructed operators of the vessel to inform its passengers that they were not a charter vessel, and instead was a private vessel.

He explained that this was done deliberately to circumvent the system, adding that this was not the first fine for the agent. He said they were previously penalised for similar offences.

The agent was fined $5,000 on February 16 for failing to obtain a commercial license while being a charter.

Customs also issued a $5,000 fine to the agent for cruising without a cruising permit, a $10,000 fine for false declaration, and a $20,000 fine for obstruction of the duties of a Customs officer.

The vessel the agent encouraged to circumvent the system is a 239-foot mega-yacht that entered the BVI from St Maarten. The vessel was caught while on its way to Peter Island.

Agents warned at symposiums

He said despite several symposiums held with the industry in the BVI and United States Virgin Islands (USVI) where agents were warned about sharing misinformation to the public, this practice still continues.

Since the symposiums, Smith said boaters have been calling the Customs Department almost daily to access accurate information. He said some have also admitted that agents have been giving them information on how to circumvent the laws and policies of the BVI.

According to the Customs boss, charter agents have a responsibility; not only to the clients but also to the Customs, Trade, and Immigration departments.

He further noted that they also hold a responsibility to the Shipping Registry, the BVI Tourist Board and the Labour Department as well as the Health Department in terms of making sure that these vessels follow the existing protocols in place.

Agents, he said, play a vital role in the tourism industry and if they continue to give misinformation, their actions will be affecting the territory in a very serious way.

Smith urged the agents to follow all the rules and procedures and to call or visit the Customs Department if they have questions.


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