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This operation will enable the tax authority to recover Shs203,913,344 in taxes and penalties, revealing the tax evasion scheme.

URA to Recover over Shs200 Million from Illegal Vehicle Cloners

posted onMay 23, 2024

The URA customs enforcement team recently intercepted two Toyota Hiace vehicles, known locally as drones, and six high-value trucks with falsified chassis numbers.

This operation will enable the tax authority to recover Shs203,913,344 in taxes and penalties, revealing the tax evasion scheme.

“The unscrupulous car dealers imported the trucks as motor vehicle spare parts and later assembled them in Kampala to create complete units. They illegally assign them number plates from different vehicles,” explained Ibrahim Bbossa, URA’s spokesperson.

Bbossa further noted that the assemblers were importing these vehicles as units transiting to South Sudan, where they would acquire South Sudanese number plates. They would then return to Uganda and unlawfully swap the South Sudanese plates for Ugandan ones.

“These vehicles’ original chassis numbers are then altered to match the registered number plate given to them,” Bbossa added.

In a similar operation, URA enforcement officers seized a Toyota Hiace with the registration number UAZ646D and a chassis number KDH200-0044323, which actually belonged to another drone with the registration number UBJ838F.

This car is part of the fleet of Front Page Hotel in Entebbe, Wakiso district. It was alleged that after UAZ646D was involved in an accident, the owner purchased a used chassis from Bwaise Accident Vehicles “Supermarket.”

However, intelligence gathering and surveillance footage from the Uganda Police Force revealed that the Drone UBJ838F, whose chassis was supposedly sold to UAZ646D, was still operational and traveling on Entebbe road. It was also discovered that both drones had never been registered in Uganda, despite bearing previously registered number plates.

While a taxpayer can legally alter certain registered details of a Motor Vehicle, Trailer, or Engineering Plant, such as the color, seating capacity, engine, weight, or body description, these changes are subject to inspection and fee payment.

A chassis number is a unique identifier assigned to a vehicle, and altering it is illegal, constituting vehicle fraud, which impedes ownership tracking. According to Section 131C of the Traffic and Road Safety Act 1998 of Uganda, as amended, no one is allowed to modify a motor vehicle's, trailer's, or engineering plant's chassis without the manufacturer's prior written permission.

Bbossa advised buyers to conduct background checks to verify the authenticity of the cars they purchase.

This information can be obtained from URA’s Customs department and the Ministry of Works and Transport Registration and Licensing Department. These details are also available in the car’s logbook, which buyers must insist on seeing and verifying before making a purchase from a bond or a car dealer.

The owners of the intercepted vehicles will be required to pay the due taxes and penalties. If they do not redeem their goods, the trucks will be sold at a public auction.

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