KARACHI: The unscrupulous elements including staff of Al-Hamd International Container Terminal (AICT) have come up with a plan to save their skin in the FIRs lodged against them for attempting to clear mobile phones, tablet PCs and batteries through mis-declaration, sources said.
MCC Appraisement West had lodged FIRs against certain importers and officials of Al-Hamd International Container Terminal (AICT) for conniving with each other to clear mobile phones, tablet PCs and batteries through mis-declaration in the bills of lading.
Collector MCC Appraisement West Shahnaz Maqbool passed the information to Deputy Collector R&D Imran Rasool that an attempt would be made to clear mobile phones imported from UAE through mis-declaration in the bills of lading.
On receipt of information, the subject consignments were put on ‘hold’ in the WeBOC system and the same confidential information was passed on to custodian AICT. However, Ahmed Mirza, head CSD AICT and Saad Hasan, rather than keeping the information confidential, communicated the same to the importers. Resultantly, the importers did not file the Goods Declaration (GD).
The bills of lading Nos. RUS/UP/179181, RUS/UP/17918/AC, RUS/UP/17918/AA mentioned that the consignments were garment accessories, refrigerator parts and disperse dyes, but the goods were found to be mobile phones and batteries. These consignments were imported by M/s Rana Enterprises, M/s Arham & Co and M/s Zuantiqam.
As these importers had been informed by the staff of M/s AICT about the suspicion of authorities, they did not file the GDs. However, Collector Shahnaz Maqbool lodged the FIR and soon after that she was transferred.
Now, three more consignments in the name of M/s Rana Enterprises, M/s Arham & Co and M/s Zuantiqam have reached the port declared to be containing the same goods, which the bills of ladings of the seized goods mentioned.
Sources said, the accused would attempt to get the seized goods declared as frustrated cargo and seek the re-export, while they would plea that the consignments that have reached the port were their actual shipments.
Sources said the new consignments had reached the port after a gap of around 10 days, which is sufficient enough to create suspicion against the probable claim that the earlier/seized goods were frustrated cargo. Sources said they made an attempt to get mobile phones and batteries etc. through mis-declaration and now that the scam had been detected they were trying to save their skin by staging the drama of frustrated cargo.
Another important thing is that when Shahnaz Maqbool blocked the said consignments, these were unblocked by the top officer of Appraisement South. However, Shahnaz Maqbool lodged the FIR.
Sources said it was actually the part of a larger game wherein a top officer of Appraisement South and a senior most officer of Customs Intelligence & Investigation were the main players and they are allegedly backed by a federal government advisor. Sources maintained that these two officers enjoyed the powers of Chairman FBR while Chairman FBR had been allegedly asked to stay away from the affairs of Customs.
The current Member Customs did not have sufficient experience of appraisement as he had been associated with the enforcement side. However, contrary to the past practice, he was appointed as Member Customs reportedly on the recommendation of Chief Collector Appraisement South.
The senior appraisement south officer has weakened the appraisement side through various measures in the name of trade facilitation while the top Customs Intelligence & Investigation officer had weakened the enforcement side; resulting in a huge loss to national exchequer due to mis-declaration, under-invoicing and smuggling. M/s AICT is said to be a part of this game and as per sources large-scale smuggling through mis-declaration was being carried out through AICT, even contraband goods such as liquor was being cleared/smuggled through mis-declaration.
On the other hand, officers and officials trying to enforce law and rules are being transferred. It is for the first time that BS-16 officers are transferred to separate provinces.
It is alleged that this ill-money making exercise on the cost of national exchequer was being patronized by elements close to the present government, and this would continue till the upcoming elections.