Investigations into liquor smuggling hints involvement of a senior Customs officer

KARACHI: The investigations into the case of huge quantity liquor smuggling hint that the crime was being undertaken in an organized manner and the authorities are investigating possibility of involvement of a very senior Customs officer in this ordeal.

MCC Preventive has recently seized a container full of foreign origin liquor which was being smuggled into the country under the garb of Transshipment consignment.

Investigations found that as many as 10 consignments of the similar importer were cleared from MCC Appraisement East, which were imported from China. But, the subject consignment had been imported from UAE.

Intelligence sources confirmed that there was information that a very senior officer of MCC Appraisement East, a principal appraiser and examination staff were involved. The idea is strengthened by the fact that the TP filed by a bonded carrier was cancelled even before filing of the Goods Declaration and the imported decided to get the consignment cleared from Karachi.

Intelligence sources said the instant case could be linked to a liquor smuggling case detected in 2008. The consignment was imported by M/s Patanwala who got nine consignments cleared through forging signatures of Principal Raja Yaqoob and Appraising Officer Javed Khalid. Sources suspect that similar lobby was behind this scam.

There are reports of large scale irregularities at MCC Appraisement East. There are instances of under0invoicing and mis-declaration pertaining to the imports of perfumes and to a rough estimate revenue to the tune of Rs2.0 million per containers is being leaked. Moreover energy drinks including Red Bull invites duty and taxes to the tune of Rs8.0 million, which are being cleared mis-declared as fruit juices and soft drinks thus causing a loss of Rs7.0 million to the exchequer.

Last year, appraising officer Dost Mohammad put an hold on eight consignments of energy drinks, but Principal Appraiser Shafiullah got the consignments examined by Appraising Officer Abdul Razzak and cleared the consignments as fresh juices. As per law, Dost Mohammad should have examined these consignments.

The cartels patronizing organized crime were threatened by Appraising Officers Sohail Mughal and Mohammad Javed, so these officers were transferred last year while Dost Mohammad was transferred  from R&D East two months back.

The MCC Preventive has lodged an FIR against importer. Shipper and other accomplices for making an attempt to smuggle contraband goods through transshipment consignments.

According to the detail of the case, credible information was received that an attempt would be made to smuggle contraband goods in the garb of import consignments especially which are intended for transshipment to the upcountry dry ports.

Accordingly strict vigil was maintained by the Port Control Unit for consignments originating and arriving from UAE. On 28th July, 2015 an import consignment which had arrived from UAE lying in PMS Container Yard East Wharf, Karachi was suspected to be one of them.

Owing to the sensitivity of the issue the container was put on hold at PMS Container Yard at East Wharf and PICT. Preliminary inquiries revealed that M/s Docks (Private) Limited had filed a transshipment permit, being Customs Bonded Carrier on behalf of the importer/consignee M/s Ayub Packages for transporting the same from the port of Karachi to Peshawar Dry port.

However, on 26th July, 2015 the Customs Bonded Carrier M/s Dock (Private)  Limited applied for cancellation of the Transshipment Permit which was subsequently allowed cancellation by the respective clearance Collectorate.

Since the risk indicators and profile of the container was considered high risk as such the container bearing intact shipping line seal was shifted from PMS Container Yard at East Wharf to PCU Headquarters at NMB wharf. After shifting of the container the same was opened after verifying and cutting of intact seal which resulted in the recovery of assorted foreign origin beer cans, whiskey bottles and wines.

Upon completion of examination assorted liquor 6312 bottles, wine 2904 bottles and beer 6720 cans along with relevant packing material, container No. KGSU-2255358 along with cut shipping line seal were seized.

Considering the fact that M/s Docks (Private) Limited Customs Bonded Carrier filed the transshipment permit, which was subsequently allowed cancellation by the staff of Customs clearance Collectorate, their role requires thorough investigation.

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