11 Oct 2012

Top Tonga businessman faces smuggling charges

3:07 pm on 11 October 2012

A well known businessman in Tonga, Joseph Ramanlal, has been charged with illegally importing goods.

Mr Ramanlal was arrested along with the captains of the freighters, St Theresa and Princess Royal, Sione Tau'alupe and 'Epeli Vainikolo, last weekend.

Radio Tonga reports the trio is being charged with two counts of smuggling.

It has been alleged cargo was transferred from one vessel to the other without the knowledge of Customs officers.

The goods transfer, which is understood to have happened at sea, allegedly involved meat products, vehicles and other goods.

Mr Ramanlal is the local agent for the two ships and a co-director in the company that operates them.