KARACHI: The Customs Court has granted bail to two of the accused involved in the pilferage of NATO/ISAF container. These include Saad Zulfiqar Manager DP World and Malik Asad of M/s Port Connection.

Sources said it was a high profile case and judiciary was very cautious in this regard. These men were granted bail after four months.

The Directorate General of Intelligence & Investigation (I&I) Customs has submitted the seizure report for adjudication proceedings, nominating several persons as accused in the unauthorized pilferage and removal of bonded goods from consignments of ISAF forces meant for re-exportation to ISAF Germany via Port Mohammad Bin Qasim.

The offenders nominated in the seizure report include M/s Bin Qutub International, M/s Tri Wah Logistics, M/s Saryal Cargo Channel and Customs Clearing Agency, M/s Trade Link International, M/s Ports Connection, M/s DP World and focal officer for ISAF reverse cargo of US Consulate Karachi.

The assessable value of pilfered goods has been estimated at Rs21.364 million and duty/taxes involved comes to Rs11.246 million.

It was the information of DG I&I Lutfullah virk while Additional Director Nadeem Ahsan and Intelligence officer Fakhar Shah made remarkable progress in the case.

According to details, a credible information was received in the Directorate General of Intelligence & Investigation-FBR that M/s. Ports Connection Bonded Carrier and M/s Saryal Cargo Channel & Customs Clearing Agency with the active connivance of other associates-in-crime are involved in the illegal and unauthorized pilferage/removal of bonded goods from the containers of various consignments of ISAF reverse transit cargo meant for re-exportation from Mazar Sharif, Afghanistan to ISAF Germany through Customs Station Torkham via Port Muhammad Bin Qasim, Karachi, Pakistan.

The source further disclosed that number of such consignments where from goods had been pilfered are lying pending re-export at Port Muhammad Bin Qasim for the last more than four months and no action has so far been taken by the concerned quarters.

In pursuance of aforesaid information a team of officers of the Directorate General of I&I Karachi conducted preliminary investigation and identified 18X40 ft containers of ISAF, reverse transit cargo arrived from Customs Station Torkham, to Port Muhammad Bin Qasim.

The under reference containers were detained and copies of relevant export Goods Declarations along with related export documents were procured from the concerned clearing agents M/s Trade Link International who have been authorized by US consulate, Karachi to handle ISAF reverse transit cargo at Karachi for export to Germany.

From the perusal of the export documents, it transpired that M/s Saryal Cargo Channel & Customs Clearing Agency, who are also authorized by the US Consulate, Karachi to handle ISAF reverse transit cargo, during the period September 23, 2014 to December 23, 2014, filed re-export Goods Declarations along with relevant documents on behalf of ISAF at Customs Station Torkham, Custom House, Peshawar, declaring therein the description of the consignments as Batteries filled with Acid and Lamps and completed customs required procedural formalities.

The original GDs procured from the clearing agents revealed that the containers were inspected by the Customs staff posted at Torkham and containers numbers as well as intact seals affixed by the shippers were verified at the time of entry at Torkham.

Furthermore, the weight of the containers was also checked at Torkham where after inspection reports were endorsed on the reverse of Goods Declarations. The said consignments were thereafter transported to Port Muhammad Bin Qasim Karachi, by M/s Ports Connection (Pvt) Ltd Bonded Carrier for its onward re-exportation to ISAF Germany, while further Customs handling at Karachi was to be carried out by the authorized clearing agents M/s Trade Links International.

Reportedly out of 18 containers lx40 ft container was also detained by ANF authorities. In order to confirm the veracity of the information, remaining 17X40 ft containers having apparently intact seals affixed by the shipper and customs, were examined by the staff of Directorate General at Port Muhammad Bin Qasim.

On physical examination 8X40 ft containers were found to be stuffed with waste materials goods like Wooden Pallets, Sand Bags, Concrete Blocks and 01 Box Used Tube Lights against declaration of Batteries filled with Acid/Lamps etc. Remaining 9X40 ft containers were found as per declarations in the relevant GDs. Eight containers were seized.

Investigations revealed state of affairs which established that officials of M/s DP World somehow facilitated the contended shipment of pilfered ISAF reverse cargo.

Moreover, the role of officers/officials of Directorate of Transit Trade posted at the exit Collectorate is also being examined.

It has been established that ODRP focal person of US Consulate General Karachi and all other persons responsible for transit of ISAF reverse cargo have abetted illegal removal of dutiable boned goods by substituting the same with wooden pallets and waste to cover up the offence. Sources said that Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs were onboard the case.

It may be recalled that Directorate of Transit Trade has also made cases pertaining to the pilferage of 21 containers of US Army and arrested drivers, broker of vehicles, manager of M/s Bilal Associate and others, but none of them were given bail even after 5 months

The accused also approached High Court for bail, but no one was entertained. Only Shahid Ansari owner of M/s Bilal Associate was granted bail on medical grounds.