Friday 20 October 2017

Thai customs officers seize 15 luxury cars reported stolen in UK

Thai customs officers check a seized Mercedes GLE 350 and a Nissan GTR (AP)
Thai customs officers check a seized Mercedes GLE 350 and a Nissan GTR (AP)
Thai custom officials are investigating about 300 other vehicles suspected to have been illegally imported

Thai customs officials have seized 15 luxury cars British authorities said were stolen and exported to Thailand.

A request from the UK to find 42 stolen cars believed to have been taken to Thailand has led to the seizure of 122 vehicles imported by Thai dealership companies.

Out of those, 15 were found to have been stolen in the UK. Thai customs officials are investigating around 300 other vehicles suspected to have been illegally imported.

Officials displayed a Mercedes GLE 350 and a Nissan GTR at a news briefing, part of the batch sought by Britain. The customs bureau said the cars were seized when their Thai importer attempted to ship them out of Thailand to evade officials.

Kulit Sombatsiri, director-general of Thai customs, said the vehicles UK authorities are seeking were partially paid for in monthly instalments by UK buyers before being sold on the black market.

"The buyers only paid around 5% or 10% of the car's cost and they would then sell it," he said. "In the United Kingdom, they classify these cars as stolen."

Police raids on May 18 and 22 resulted in the seizure of 122 cars that included luxury brands such as Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, McClaren and Lotus.

Of the 122 cars seized, 31 Lamborghinis and a Lexus were declared to Thai customs as cheaper models than they actually were, which amounted to around 650 million baht (£14 million) of losses in tax collection, police said.

Further investigations revealed that eight of 11 Lamborghini Aventadors imported from the UK were registered to Thai customs as the cheaper Gallardo model.

Two other Lamborghinis were registered as being partially shipped from the UK and later assembled in Thailand. Police suspect the cars were fully assembled before they were delivered.

Cars delivered in parts to be assembled in Thailand can be taxed up to 80% of their value while authorities can tax fully assembled imports up to 328%.

AP

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