KARACHI: Customs authorities have unearth a mega scandal of removing goods without duty payment from a terminal and all the involved in clearance process found involved in this scam.
According to details, the authorities detected that M/s. Pak Shaheen, Off-dock Container Terminal, Karachi removing imported auto parts without clearance from the terminal areas with the help of customs officials besides customs agents and importers also found as their allied.
Pakistan customs has presented a final challan in the court of special judge of customs and taxation and initiated criminal proceedings to conduct the audit of the record relevant to consignments cleared through the off-dock terminal.
The authorities initially identified that auto parts (pistons) weighing 14,146 kilograms and 2,189kg auto parts (wiper blades) were being removed illegally. The authorities said that the detailed scrutiny of the case may attract huge value of duty and taxation.
A preliminary report, in this regard, identified that the shipping agents, freight forwarders, management of off-dock terminal, importers and customs agents all were hands in glove with a clandestine motive for a collusive injury to the national exchequer. “The density of matter may be gauged that four out of five perpetrators in the chain were licensed under the Customs Act, 1969 and under the law were responsible to safeguard the national revenue.”
The details of the case provided in the report stated that certain freight forwarders have imported FCL (Full Container Load) Consignments in their name against master bills of lading issued at the port of shipment indicated them as ‘consignor’ of the goods. “These master bills of lading were kept by the freight forwards as a token of shipment consigned to them and its contents were never revealed to the Pakistan Customs authorities at any stage,” the preliminary report said.
The freight forwarders, however, on import of consignments through their customs agents file IGM (Import General Manifest) as LCL (Less Container Load) of the goods.
“The documentary evidence has revealed that freight forwarders at the time of filing of IGM declared incorrect particulars of the goods at their own whims to extend undue benefits to respective importers in levy of legitimate customs duty and taxes,” the report stated.
It is further stated that M/s. Pak Shaheen were neither followed law, the government instructions, rules and procedure issued time to time nor were observing internal operational set out by them to run as a off-dock terminal operator. “Hence, on receipts of the consignments in sealed containers no record of the arrival of excess quantity of goods was made or reported to the concerned customs authorities,” it stated and added: “M/s Pak Shaheen in league with the freight forwarders, importers and others kept silently the excess receiving of weight and quantity mentioned in the IGM for its onward and ultimate delivery to the importer.”
The authorities also found examinations staff of customs involved in the scam because without their help it was impossible to remove the goods from terminal area.
The customs authorities selected 257 consignments selected for detailed scrutiny in the scam and issued notices to responsible.
A preliminary report also identified that quantity of about 500 Metric Tons of un-manifested and un-declared auto parts were still available at M/s. Pak Shaheen having not reported to concerned customs authorities and waiting for illegal removal as above. “The bare minimum worth of these auto parts is worked out to Rs55 million in terms of chargeable customs duty and allied taxes alone,” it stated.
There are conflicts in identification of criminal activities between preliminary report and final challan on the issue. However, both the reports have found involvement of freight forwarders, customs agents, off-dock terminal, importers and customs officials in this scam.
The final challan concluded: “… actual weight, packages etc of imported consignments was being concealed even goods were being concealed as un-manifested cargo and were being illegally removed from the bonded area of Pak Shaheen Off-dock Terminal under the patronage of its core management.” “The illegal removal of imported goods or excess quantity of imported goods and allow its loading onto the carrying vehicle cannot take place without deliberations and collaboration extended by the staff of the terminal,” it added.
It noted that the aspect of pre-mediated conspiracy between the importer and their foreign supplier towards concealing the actual weight of the consignments cannot be ruled out.
The final challan also established involvement of customs agents, freight forwarders and shipping agents in this case.
The final challan, however, skipped main points raised in the preliminary report seeking to take up the matter with the commercial consular of Embassy of Pakistan at the respective country of shipment and to call for relevant information to strengthen the criminal cases already registered by the customs department.
The preliminary report also suggested that a comprehensive audit by chartered accountant firms should be undertaken for all the FCL consignments consigned and manifested in the name of freight forward, during last five years.
It was requested that the un-declared and un-manifested auto parts lying at M/s Pak Shaheen Off-Dock terminal may confiscated being smuggled auto-parts.