Further arrests possible

INVESTIGATIONS into a cross-border smuggling ring allegedly involving customs officers have uncovered details which may lead to further arrests of department staff.

The Acting Commissioner of the ICAC, Mr Jim Buckle, said yesterday he believed the syndicate had been dealt a hard blow but added that its full scale had yet to be revealed.

''We certainly have not eradicated the problem of car smuggling, but I think we have made a jolly good dent in it,'' Mr Buckle said.

He said that following the ICAC investigations, it was possible more customs officers would be arrested in connection with the smuggling ring, which specialised in stolen luxury cars.

Nineteen people, including nine middle-ranking customs officers who worked or had worked at the Lok Ma Chau and Man Kam To checkpoints, were arrested last week for allegedly various roles in smuggling vehicles to China. Two officers have since been charged.

Mr Buckle said investigators had found no evidence of any Chinese officials being involved in the syndicate.

Mr Buckle assured that there was no syndicate active on a scale similar to the one smashed within the Government last week, despite a rise in complaints of corruption against civil servants, especially disciplinary services officers, as reflected in statistics.