KARACHI: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has filed reference against over 24 individuals including customs officials, clearing agents and border agents in ISAF Container Scam.
In pursuance of Suo Moto Case No. 16/2010 (ISAF Container Scam) taken by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, NAB Sindh initiated inquiry proceedings upon receipt of complaints from FBR Containers Probe Committee in January 2012, according to the reference.
It said that in the judicial order dated March 28, 2012, the Supreme Court of Pakistan order the NAB to conduct thorough inquiry in the matter by providing proper opportunity of hearing to all concerned, however the report of the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) of January 10, 2012, shall be read as part of the order.
The investigation officer of the NAB finalized the investigation report and found a number of people accused in the scam.
In the reference the accused persons are included:
01. Imtiaz Khalid, Proprietor, M/s. Gomruk Forwarding Company, Karachi. (Absconder)
02. Dil Nawaz Ahmed, Proprietor, M/s 7 Star Enterprises, Karachi (Absconder)
03. Abdul Rauf Baig, Partner, M/s DACO International, Karachi (Absconder)
04. Faiq Waseem, Partner, M/s DACO International, Karachi (Absconder)
05. Abdul Rasheed, Proprietor, M/s Shahwani Enterprises, Border Clearing Agent, Chaman (Absconder)
06. Tariq Khan, Partner, M/s Jan Hassan Traders, Border Clearing Agent, Peshawar (Absconder)
07. Sheraz Gulbar, Partner, M/s Jan Hassan Traders, Border Clearing Agent, Peshawar (Absconder)
08. Haji Toor Gul, Proprietor, M/s Khyber Karwan Trading Company, Border Clearing Agent, Peshawar (Absconder)
09. Riazuddin Nizami, Proprietor, M/s Ramy Enterprises, Border Clearing Agent, Peshawar (Absconder)
10. Sohail Nauman, Proprietor, M/s Sohail Trading Company, Border Clearing Agent, Peshawar (Absconder)
11. Shams ur Rehman, Proprietor, M/s Shinwari Trading Company, Border Clearing Agent, Peshawar (Absconder)
12. Muhammad Hassan, Director, M/s Amir Enterprises, Border Clearing Agent, Peshawar (Absconder)
13. Ayaz Hussain, Proprietor, M/s Ayaz Traders, Border Clearing Agent, Peshawar (Absconder)
14. Zahir Khan, Proprietor, M/s Hamza Customs Agency, Border Clearing Agent, Peshawar/Mardan (Absconder)
15. Ijazul Hassan, Proprietor, M/s Hassan Enterprises, Border Clearing Agent, Peshawar (Absconder)
17. Muhammad Sharif, Proprietor, M/s Muhammad Sharif and Company, Border Clearing Agent, Peshawar (Absconder)
18. Abid Hussain, Proprietor, M/s Faraz Customs Agency Peshawar, Border Clearing Agent, Khyber Agency (Absconder)
19. Jamaluddin, Proprietor, M/s Khojak Trading Company, Border Clearing Agent, Chaman (Absconder)
20. Mira Khan, Proprietor, M/s Zarar Customs Agency, Border Clearing Agent, Peshawar (Absconder)
21. Lala Jan, Proprietor, M/s Haji Lala Jan and Company, Border Clearing Agent, Chaman (Absconder)
22. Nasir Khan, Proprietor, M/s Babe Khyber Traders, Border Clearing Agent, Peshawar (Absconder)
23. Sardar Amin Farooqui, Principal Appraiser, Customs, Model Customs Collectorate, Hyderabad (Absconder)
24. Masoodul Hassan, Principal Appraiser, MCC Port Qasim, Karachi (Absconder).
The investigation report of NAB revealed that 7,922 containers that were subject matter of FTO report completed round trip from Karachi to Torkham / Chaman within eight days as per data provided by respective terminal operators including Karachi International Container Terminal (KICT), Pakistan International Container Terminal (PICT) and Qasim International Container Terminal (QICT). The report said that the terminal operators had confirmed the information of such containers.
The reference reported that 222 containers had been got cleared by three clearing agents in the serial number 01 to 04 in the above list of accused.
The NAB questioned Usman Tariq, Assistant Collector Customs, Afghan Transit Group, who stated that in terms of Section 207 and 209 of the Customs Act 1969 read with other relevant laws authorized clearing agent of an Afghan importer is jointly and severally liable for safe transit and cross border of Afghan Transit Goods, and in case the Afghan Transit cargo is pilfered en-route, the clearing agent is also liable to pay the government duty and taxes involved in such cargo.
Regarding the responsibility of customs officials, the NAB said that it is appropriate officer who allows goods to be transited under the section. â€œIt is responsibility of principal appraiser (Afghan Transit group) to manage, supervise and control over the goods in transit to Afghanistan.
It is also the responsibility of principal appraiser to keep on reconciling the record pertaining to cargo cleared under Afghan Transit Trade and in case if ATTI /CBC (Cross Border Certificate) of a container / consignment is not received back within 45 days from the border collectorate, it becomes his duty and responsibility to contact and confirm form the respective exit collectorates regarding cross border confirmation of the consignments cleared by the Transit Group under his jurisdiction / control.â€
It further investigated: â€œIt also becomes the duty and responsibility of principal appraiser (transit cargo) than in case if the ATTI/CBC is not received back from exit collectorate within 45 days, he should apply preventive measures by not allowing to clear any other container / consignment of the same importer or clearing agent so that further revenue loss to state exchequer could be avoided.â€
The investigation, however, found that principal appraisers (number 23 and 24 of above list) kept clearing the containers without ascertaining their cross border status as such they failed to exercise their authority to prevent to loss to the national exchequer and also abetted the accused clearing agents and border agents.
The report said that 222 containers involved in the instant case were cleared under the import documents of different Afghan importers. The cross verification with clearing and border agents also confirmed that the containers were cleared by them on behalf of Afghan importers. â€œIn this regard, the Afghan importers could not be proceeded against in view of the Section 04 of National Accountability Ordinance, 1999,â€ it stated.
As per FTO report incidence of duties and taxes evaded worked out at Rs 19 billion on 7,922 containers. As such average duties and taxes per container work out to be Rs2.4 million. The NAB inquiry further worked out individual liability in respect of each clearing agent. The accused No. 01 to 04 in the above list got 222 containers cleared from Customs on behalf of accused border agents (Number 05 to 22). National exchequer has suffered a loss of Rs532.8 million in the shape of duty and taxes evaded in respect of 222 containers got cleared by the accused persons. â€œThe accused No. 01 to 24 are severely and jointly responsible for above mentioned loss,â€ it said.
The NAB investigation also revealed that CBC in respect of containers were issued by customs officials at exit point i.e. Torkham and Chaman. â€œHowever, the said containers could not complete round trip within eight days, as such any CBCs issued are fake and unreliable.â€ In this regard, NAB approached the Federal Board of Revenue to identify the officials who had endorsed and cleared CBCs against 7,922 containers involved in the scam and take necessary action against such officials under intimation to NAB.
After having sufficient material to justify filing of reference, the matter is referred to the Administrative, Judge, Accountability Court, Karachi.