Al-Shamsher Engineering case; Facts suggest arrest of Customs officers unwarranted

KARACHI: Several facts have emerged suggesting that the Customs officers arrested by NAB in M/S Al-Shamsher Engineering (Pvt) Ltd case was not warranted as their role was limited to the issuance of Consumption Certificates, which were issued on the basis of reports by Sales Tax & Central Excise Industrial Survey Division and duly endorsed by then Central Board of Revenue (CBR).

NAB has arrested seven Customs officers for their alleged involvement in a case, which resulted in a loss of Rs180 million to the national exchequer. These officers are accused of issuing consumption certificates to M/s Al-Shamsher Engineering. Based on these certificates the company availed zero sales tax rating on imported raw material.

M/s Al-Shamsher allegedly sold the imported iron & steel raw material in the market instead of in-house consumption, which was the pre-requisite of concessionary SROs during 1997 to 2003.

Facts available with Customnews.pk, these officers issued the Consumption Certificates based on four different orders issued by the FBR. The FBR’s orders were based on the following reports.

In 1997, Additional Collector Rukhsana Yasmin, Deputy Collector Dr. Saeed, Superintendent Mansur Ahmed forwarded a survey report to FBR confirming that M/s Al Shamsher was consuming the imported raw material at their manufacturing facility and were producing 10,00 MT of produce. Subsequently Mohammad Siddiq issued the order for issuance of Consumption certificates.

Similarly in 1998, Dr. Saeed, Mansur Ahmed and Deputy Superintendent Mohammad Iqbal forwarded a similar survey report to FBR. In 1998 Mohammad Siddiq signed the Certificate issuance order.

In 1999 Additional Collector Sumera Nazir Khan, Dr. Saeed and Mansur Ahmed submitted a similar survey report and a Certificate issuing order bearing signature of Imtiaz Ahmed Shaikh was moved to Customs.

In March 2001, Deputy Collector Asif Mehmood and Deputy Superintendent Mohammad Iqbal forwarded a 10,000 MT production report, upon which Imtiaz Ahmed signed the Certificate issuance order.

Then Collector Abdul Wudood Khan in a report noted that the electricity bills of the company did not confirm the production of 10,000 MT. Based on this report, a senior officer Hafiz Anees (Late) made a corruption case against scores of Customs officers and recommended appropriate action against them.

The accused Customs officers approached Appellate Tribunal. M/s Al Shamsher Engineering presented all records and invoiced endorsed by Sales Tax officials proving the consumption of raw material and production thereof. Tribunal struck down the case made by Hafiz Anees noting that a case could not be made on the basis of electricity bills.

Sources said senior officers of Sales Tax & Central Excise Industrial Survey Division for the purpose of physical inspection only visited hotels, cinemas, film industry and beverages industry, as central excise duty was higher on these sectors. However, other industries were left for junior officials.

It may be mentioned here that NAB arrested Amir Rasheed Shaiek, Addl Collector Customs, Karachi (the then Deputy Collector Customs, Lahore); Muhammad Tufail, Ex-Assistant Collector Customs, Lahore; Khalid Mehmood, Ex-Superintendent Customs, Lahore; Muhammad Afzal Dogar, Inspector Inland Revenue, Lahore (the then Inspector Customs and Central Excise, Lahore); Muhammad Akram, Inspector Inland Revenue, Lahore (the then Inspector Customs and Central Excise, Lahore); Sheikh M. Nadeem Latif, Inspector Customs, Lahore (the then Inspector Customs and Central Excise, Lahore); Syed Ali Abbas, Inspector Customs, Lahore (the then Inspector Customs and Central Excise, Lahore).

Meanwhile, two Grade-19 officers who are also accused of involvement in the above mentioned case have acquired protective bails.

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