Edward Webster Olney Jr.

As Interviewed by Brody Martell, March 18th 2018

Edward Webster Olney Jr.: In His Own Words

It was millions of dollars of food, and it was coming to the poor in- in Bangladesh, and our people had been trying to get, you know a liberation from taxes. Cause it was a donation from the United States Government, and the United States Government said we’re not paying taxes on this, and so we had to get a tax- we had to get a tax exemption. You couldn’t pay taxes on all this donated food. And the office was trying and trying and trying to get the tax exemption, but it seemed like, the person in the customs, wanted some sort of a bribe, and we’re not allowed to pay bribes.

And we were only one or two days before that ship came into port, and they were begging me they said “Ned, you’ve gotta help us with customs. The head of customs is refusing to sign off on this.” And I said, “Well, if, you know the boat reaches the port, we’re gonna have to pay all of these called “Demurrage Charges” and I'm not sure what to do. So they said, “You’ve gotta come in and talk with this guy.”

So I did some research on the internet about this guy, and I went into his office, he was a very old Bangladeshi authority, he was the director of customs, and I came in sat down, and he looked over his glasses and said “How can I help you?” and I said “Well, I just came in to congratulate you.” and he said “Congratulate me? About What?” and I printed off this news story about him, and I put it on his desk in front of him, and he went from a very serious man and he just- then he smiled.

What it was was a story about him and how he had lost a court case, because he opened up this container that had- that had said it was full of junk metal. When they opened up the container it had a brand new Mercedes Benz in it and new refrigerators. He said, “This isn't junk metal, this is a new Mercedes Benz, so you owe taxes on all of this.” And the people who owned the Mercedes Benz took him- took the government to court, and they won because they bribed the judges. So what this head of customs did, he said “Okay, so it's junk metal? You insist this new Mercedes Benz and all of these new things inside this container are junk metal?” He took the container, and empties it out in the parking lot of customs, and had a big bulldozer smash it all, smashed it all up, and threw it back into the container. He closed the door, and said here is your junk metal.

So the guy who owned it then was furious, but this was an international story, and because I congratulated him on it, and thought it was funny, and we had a good laugh he said “Can I offer you a cup of tea?” and then after we had the cup of tea he said you know, “How can I help you?” and I said “Well we’ve got this food coming in, and it’s all donation we’re not gonna sell any of it” and he said “Fine, absolutely let me sign off on that”. And that is how I got tax liberation of our millions of dollars of food coming in.