British Virgin Islands

Friday, Sep 17, 2021

Officer rotation critical to avoid corruption in Customs - Smith

Officer rotation critical to avoid corruption in Customs - Smith

Commissioner of Her Majesty’s Customs, Wade Smith, has assured the ongoing Commission of Inquiry (COI) that there are robust measures in place to eliminate corruption among his ranks.

While giving evidence before the COI recently, Smith said he had a special rotation system in place that dealt with dishonesty and fraudulent activities from members of the Customs Department.

Speaking to the effectiveness of mechanisms to prevent corruption, abuse of office, or other serious dishonesty that may take place within the Customs Department, Smith described the rotations of various officers as “mission-critical”.

“It’s mission-critical in Customs administrations to have rotations to avoid what is called ‘port shopping’, to avoid importers building relationships with Customs officers. So you have to ensure that they’re constantly rotated, they’re working with unfamiliar faces and this will lend to alleviate any sort of wrongdoing,” Smith said.

He noted that the implementation of rotations has been met with what he described as a “tremendous surge” in revenue.

The Customs boss also highlighted random audits of all stations and teams as measures being used to retard abuse and corruption in the Customs Department.

He said these measures create an environment to ensure officers are following the required guidelines.

Smith also stated that once corruption and abuse of office or other serious dishonesty is detected using the monitoring systems mentioned, the matter is referred to Internal Audit/Assurance and Enforcement Units for further investigation.

According to Smith, any type of business conducted outside regular operational procedures usually will be identified, flagged, investigated and forwarded to relevant agencies.

No reciprocity in information sharing to Customs


Smith further told the COI that, unlike other local law enforcement agencies which are often encumbered by a lack of information sharing from members of the public and intra-agency leakage, the HM Customs Department suffers no such challenge.

“Customs doesn’t have any concerns. We share information to other members of the Joint Task Force (JTF). Sometimes, in my opinion, I don’t believe those efforts are reciprocated. There is no reciprocity as it relates to that but we share information and I can only speak for Customs, we share information with our counterparts all the time. In the JTF meetings, we’re very open and we share information at all times,” Smith said.

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