Most senior Customs officers meet Chairman FBR, protest arrest of CSPs by NAB

KARACHI: A delegation of Customs officers comprising four chief collectors and four director generals called on Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Tariq Bajwa on Monday and discussed the issue pertaining to arrest of Customs officers by National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The delegation included Chief Collector Appraisement-South Abdul Rasheed Shaikh, Chief Collector Enforcement-South Zahid Khokhar, Chief Collector Central Lodhi Khan Burki, Chief Collector North Sarwat Tahira Habib, Director General Intelligence Lutfullah Virk and three other DGs.

The officers suggested that a focal person should be appointed to deal with inter-agency cooperation and coordination adding that any investigation or enforcement agency should contact the focal person pertaining to any investigation or inquiry related to the CSPs in Customs.

They maintained that these civil officers were not like criminals who would flee. The officers said that arrest of senior customs officers for the purpose of investigation regarding a 13-year old case was harassment, which should be avoided.

Tariq Bajwa assured the officers that he would contact chairman NAB to discuss the issue in a couple of days.

It may be mentioned here that a Superintendent of Internal Audit Lahore allegedly demanded for bribe worth Rs500,000 of Al-Shamsher Engineering threatening re-opening of the subject case.

As the Appellate Tribunal and the High Court had already ruled in favor of the company, they did not succumbed to the threats.

It may be recalled that 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.

According to 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.

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