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Key Motors boss arrested

Published:Tuesday | August 17, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Jamaica Customs Department yesterday closed down the operations of Key Motors Limited and arrested its owner, Desmond Panton, for alleged customs duty evasion.

The move came after a Customs Department audit of Key Motors' operations reportedly discovered that some 50 vehicles were illegally removed from the company's warehouse and illegally sold to un-suspecting customers, denying the government $40 million in customs duty.

A statement issued by the Customs Department late yesterday stated that Panton was arrested for customs duty evasion and taking steps to defraud the government of duties and taxes, after a meeting with Customs officials earlier in the day.

"One set of rules must be followed by everyone and when persons breach these rules the full measure of the law must be applied regardless of who you are," said Customs boss Danville Walker.

The Customs Depart-ment said the charges against Panton carry fines of around $100 million.

Attempts to get a comment from Panton late yesterday were unsuccessful.

Walker said his office began repossessing the vehicles on the weekend and regretted the inconvenience caused to un-suspecting purchasers.

He said the department would seek to return the vehicles as soon as possible.