Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Keith Mitchell has blasted the employees at the Department of Customs accusing some of them of pocketing thousands of taxpayers money for their own personal use.
Well-placed sources told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that Dr. Mitchell launched a blistering attack on Customs Officers at a meting held with them last week Wednesday at Customs House on the Carenage.
A source who spoke on condition that he was not identified said that the Prime Minister created “panic and fear” in officers at Customs as he informed them of some of their corrupt dealings that resulted in the loss of thousands of dollars in government revenue through stealing.
“He (PM Mitchell) told them that he was picking up talk on the ground and in shops that he visited about all those Customs Officers who were pocketing government money”, said the source.
“A lot of people were scared because of the things the man was saying in the meeting”, he added.
According to the official, Dr. Mitchell pointed that some officers did not want to be transferred from the Customs Department because they saw the place as their “feeding” ground to get rich very quickly.
He announced that there will be a shake-up in Customs soon with some officers being transferred to work elsewhere in the civil service.
The source did not rule out the appointment of a new Comptroller of Customs to take over from Donnan Victor who has been acting in the position since the holder of the office, Carl Felix was transferred almost two years ago to take charge of the Grenada Ports Authority.
He stated that one of the Deputy Comptrollers of Customs with good connections to the ruling New National Party (NNP) might be the next person to become Comptroller of Customs.
The source stated that PM Mitchell is fully aware that there is mas corruption taking place within the Customs Department and his utterances were only the tip of the iceberg.
He spoke of allegations of a massive corruption network involving some officers in the Department and a select bunch of brokers and agents.
“Right now, the Customs has never been so corrupt as it has ever been in years. A broker will do the paper work for someone importing an item into the country and because the value is high the broker will inform the importer that he can get it lowered for him.
“If the importer agrees then the broker will speak to a particular Custom Officer who will then tell him how much he is prepared to lower it down and at what price. So, the Broker tells the importer the new price and at what cost to him and the Custom Officer”, he said.
“This is happening on a regular basis at Customs with government losing thousands of dollars each day because of the rampant corruption taking place in the place”, he added.
In recent years, the Mitchell-led government has been hiring mainly the sons and daughters of NNP supporters to fill vacancies and new positions within the Customs Department.