Nigeria’s Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariffs is to hold a hearing to examine the apparent disappearance of 282 ships and their cargoes.

The ships are not thought to have been lost at sea but they are suspected of involvement in trade-based financial crime or smuggling activities.

Misinvoicing concerns

Chairman of the committee, Hope Uzodinma, said he was most concerned about leakages in the import-export chain.

“A major area of concern here has to do with misinvoicing by international traders, abuse of free trade zone policies and temporary import permits,” he said.

Documentary fraud

Over- and under-statements of import and export values on official forms and records create a big problem according to Uzodinma.

He cites the misuse of Nigeria’s Form M, which is used to monitor imported goods and enable the collection of import duties, as one manifestation of this type of fraud.

Corrupt collaborators

Corrupt traders and bank officials collaborate to use unutilised versions of the form to perpetrate fraud according to Uzodinma.

“We have evidence to suggest that unutilised Form Ms are also used by operators for capital flight and money laundering,” he concluded.