By SANCHESKA DORSETT
Tribune Staff Reporter
SUPERWASH Limited, the company owned by Free National Movement candidate for Free Town Dionisio D’Aguilar, submitted three false declarations to the Bahamas Customs Department in 2014 which would have cost the government more than $35,000 in unpaid duty, according to documents obtained by The Tribune.
The documents show that Superwash Ltd bought washing machines from Whirlpool Corporation for $183,000 but Superwash provided “falsified invoices” to the Customs Department showing the machines as valued at $104,853.90. As a result, Superwash paid $51,584 to the Department of Customs when the true invoice value was $86,837.75 - a difference of $35,253.45.
Superwash was fined $15,000 and ordered to pay the remaining balance which was done several weeks later in January 2014.
In an interview with The Tribune, Mr D’Aguilar admitted that the invoices were altered but claimed that Superwash “was the victim of a fraud by an unscrupulous broker”.
“A number of years ago, Superwash sought to import some laundry equipment. Superwash decided to use a new customs broker, an individual supposedly just getting into the business, and an invoice of the goods was submitted to him electronically to prepare and submit the entry,” Mr D’Aguilar said.
“Payment was made to the broker for what the company was told was the full amount of the customs duty and the equipment was released to the company. “Shortly, thereafter, the company learned that the broker had significantly altered the original invoice before it was submitted to customs and underpaid the duty. The company was the victim of a fraud by an unscrupulous broker and the loss was significant. Superwash was required to pay again for the duty not paid by the broker as well as a fine,” Mr D’Aguilar added.
He also claimed that the Department of Customs owes him more than $230,000 dating back to 2015.
“In 2015, the company imported 210 20lb washers valued at $625,000,” he told The Tribune. “A rate of duty of 45 per cent was applied when in fact the duty rate should have been five per cent. The company will be applying for its credit shortly.”
Mr D’Aguilar said Superwash pays more than $1 million to the government every year in taxes, so it would “make no sense” to attempt to defraud the government of $35,000.
Hours after The Tribune received the documents from a source, Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Bradley Roberts released a statement calling on Mr D’Aguilar to “come clean with the Bahamian people” and state whether there are any other false declarations submitted by any of his companies to the Bahamas Customs Department.
He accused Mr D’Aguilar of being caught with his hands in the “cookie jar,” saying he is disqualified to seek office. He also threatened to release more information on FNM North Eleuthera candidate Howard “Rickey” Mackey on Wednesday.
In a letter addressed to Comptroller of Customs Charles Turner, a customs officer noted that on January 6, 2014, he was assigned to examine a 40-foot container of washing machines consigned to Superwash Ltd that was a part of a shipment of three containers.
Upon examining the container, the officer wrote that he found 87 commercial 27” washing machines with an invoice value of $352.80 each. The officer wrote that all the descriptions of the shipment matched the description accepted by the entry checker; however he said the values appeared to be low “considering they were commercial coin operated machines”.
The officer said he conducted a cursory check via the Internet and found the average retail value of the machine was in the area of $1,300. He then advised his supervisor that he would conduct further inquires.
He said the other two containers were also searched, under the supervision of Mr D’Aguilar at the company’s Blue Hill location on January 7, 2014. The first container again had 87 commercial 27” washing machines showing an invoice value of $352.80. The third container contained 76 commercial 27” washers showing an invoice value of 352.50 and 10 washers showing an invoice value of $309.80 each, according to the documents.
“A persistent search via telephone put me in contact with Jimmy D Young of the accounts receivable department of the Whirlpool Corporation who, without reservation, forwarded me the original copies of invoices for the washers,” the customs officer wrote.
The washers cost $672.80 and $649.80 not the $352.80 and $309.80 that was on the altered invoices, the officer noted. The net loss in revenue was $35,252.45.
In his statement, Mr Roberts accused Mr D’Aguilar of being “corrupt, greedy, dishonest and not fit for Parliament.”
“This is disgraceful,” Mr Roberts noted. “This the same Dionisio D’Aguilar who accused Bahamians of begging too much ... I publicly call on Mr D’Aguilar to come clean with the Bahamian people and state whether or not there are any other false declarations submitted by any of his companies to the Bahamas Customs Department. The public needs to know,” Mr Roberts said.
Mr D’Aguilar said in a Facebook post last night that he was not surprised by Mr Roberts’ attempts at “political espionage and skullduggery, because as usual, he has once again exposed himself for being the political hack and baffoon that he is”.
“What Mr Roberts thought was a bombshell for him has actually blown up in his face,” Mr D’Aguilar wrote. “Now it is clear for all to see that the PLP is truly on its last legs. In their desperation to deflect from their own political garbage cans being tossed on their heads, Mr Roberts has embarrassed himself and his party, hopefully for the last time.”