KARACHI: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has imposed major penalty of ‘dismissal from service’ on Syed Javed Raza Naqvi, Principal Appraiser and Appraising Officer Pervaiz Iqbal, both BS-16 officers of MCC Appraisement West, on account of corruption and misconduct.
It was learnt that around a dozen more Customs officers are likely to be dismissed from service in a couple of days.
Both these officers have been dismissed for being actively involved in the corruption carried out under ‘Vehicles Amnesty Scheme’ launched by then Chairman FBR, Ali Arshad Hakim to legalize the illegal vehicles on payment of surcharge/duty.
It is pertinent to mention here that Javed Raza is the president of All Pakistan Customs Appraising Officers Association and was going to be retired next month along with Pervaiz Iqbal.
Saeed Akram, Additional Collector, Model Customs Collectorate of Port Muhammad Bin Qasim Karachi was appointed as Inquiry Officer to conduct inquiry on account of various acts of omission and commission committed by the accused officers constituting Inefficiency, Misconduct & Corruption.
The Inquiry Officer submitted inquiry report according to which the charges leveled against the accused officer have been established. Show Cause Notices were issued to the accused officers and were also called for personal hearing by the Authorized officer, but they avoided the hearing.
After considering the charges framed in the charge sheet, inquiry report and other available record, the accused officers were found guilty of “Inefficiency”, “Misconduct” & “Corruption”.
Member (Admin) FBR after having considered all aspects of the case and the recommendations of the Authorized Officer imposed the major penalty of “dismissal from service” upon Syed Javed Raza Naqvi and Pervaiz Iqbal.
The FBR in June last initiated inquiry against customs officials, who cleared over 50,000 vehicles under ”Vehicle Amnesty Scheme” in 2013. FBR constituted four teams to determine either duty/taxes was collected as per procedures or these 50,000 vehicles were cleared at short payment of surcharge.
Additional Collector Saeed Akram was conducting this inquiry pertaining to the affairs of four officers of Appraisement Karachi and 10 officers of MCC Quetta. Two of the above mentioned officers have been taken to the task while others are likely to face their fate soon.
Sources said as per notification issued at that time for regularization of non-duty paid smuggled vehicles under ”Vehicle Amnesty Scheme”, 2013, motor vehicles having non-tampered engine or chassis numbers, which had been seized or voluntarily presented to customs department, shall not be allowed release without physical inspection and payment of redemption fine along with duty and taxes.
However, applicants, who were required to get physical inspection of the vehicle done for availing tax amnesty, were allowed to regularize their non-duty paid smuggled vehicles without physical inspection. During amnesty period, there were reports that officers posted at car group at that time granted tax amnesty to the smuggled vehicles without physical inspection against undue gains, they maintained.
Sources further said that customs officers were accused for ”under the table settlement” for allowing tax amnesty to the smuggled vehicles, which were physically not presen in the country during amnesty period. Keeping these reports in v
iew, Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) had taken suo motu action against said malpractice and recommended FBR to conduct PCA of these vehicles after investigation.
The then Collector Appraisement, Dr. Zulfiqar Malik was the key player of this entire scam in which the national exchequer was inflicted a loss to the tune of billions of rupees. Dr. Malik appointed an examiner named Mustafa for the examination of these vehicles who retired a couple of days after the amnesty scheme concluded.
Moreover, Dr. Malik did not issue any standard operating procedure (SOP) for the examination of these vehicles. Besides, no assistant/deputy/ additional collector was assigned the task to supervise the examination.
Additional Collector Iqbal Munir and Deputy Collector Ali Zaman Gardezi had no role in the examination of the vehicles and they were just the adjudication authority, but these were also involved in the investigations into this scam.
Sources alleged that all the scams and frauds and organized crime in Customs were undertaken under the patronage of Customs Appraising Officers Association. Former president of the association Mukhtar Shaikh who is now assistant collector was the treasurer and distributor of corruption money.
Shaikh has assets worth billions of rupees and also setup a business in Dubai. Sources alleged that Shaikh by the virtue of his close relations with a prominent political leader of Sindh, Mukjtar Shaikh always remained immune to any disciplinary action.
Mukhtar Shaikh’s close associate Principal Appraiser Shafiullah also has assets worth billions of rupees. Shafiullah is also a clearing agent and transporter having vehicles worth around one billion rupees. FIA and NAB made several cases against these two and despite availability of sufficient evidence, no action was taken against them.