KARACHI: Deputy Collector Customs Adjudication Ghulam Nabi Kamboh has charged a cartel for importing and fraudulently clearing CNG cylinders, which were banned to be imported as per the import policy.

The importer M/s Zam Zam Gas (CNG) Rawalpindi has been penalized and a penalty equal to 200 percent of the value of the goods which comes to around Rs80 million has been imposed. The clearing agent M/s Shoan Cargo Services has been imposed a penalty equal to the value of offending goods, which comes to around Rs40 million.

Government of Pakistan imposed a ban on import of CNG Cylinders and conversion kits falling in February 2012 through amendment in the Import Policy Order 2009.

It read import of CNG cylinders and conversion kits shall not be importable with immediate effect and until further orders. This ban shall however not apply on CNG cylinders and conversion kits for whom letters of credit were established prior to December 15, 2011. Furthermore, the aforesaid ban shall not apply on CNG fitted public transport vehicles i.e. buses and vans.

Subsequently, it was clarified by the Ministry of Commerce that the ban shall not apply on imports already made against LCs or B/Ls established or filed prior to the cut-off date of December 15, 2011.

Directorate General, Intelligence & Investigation-FBRknown that M/s. Zam Zam Gas CNG Station  in collusion with freight forwarder M/s. Transworld FZE and M/s. ECM Logistics (Pvt) Ltd., represented in Pakistan through their local agent M/s. International Cargo Management Karachi and Clearing Agent M/s. Shoan Cargo Services Karachi were violating the provisions of the Imports & Exports (Control) Act, 1950 and the Customs Act, 1969.

They were illegally importing/bringing CNG cylinders into the country by presenting manipulated, false, backdated and concocted Customs documents and Bills of Lading to the Customs.

It was later found that seven consignments of CNG cylinders of PCT heading 7311.0010 were imported in the country during March to June, 2012 and Goods Declarations were filed in MCC (Appraisement), Custom House, Karachi with deliberately backdated and concocted Bill of Lading to falsely reflect the shipment date to circumvent the ban on import.

The backdated / concocted Bills of Lading was issued by M/s. Transworld FZE and M/s ECM Logistics (Pvt) Limited India through their local agent M/s International  Cargo Management Karachi

Customs Adjudication noted the B/L, issued by the Master of the vessel, the principal shipping company confirms the manipulation on pan of the shipping/forwarding agents.

The difference between the shipping/issuances dates of Master BL and the House B/L is more than five months.

The importers, the forwarding went and the clearing agent cannot absolve themselves from their responsibilities to abide by the laws related to the import and clearance of the goods. The importers, shipping / forwarding agents and the clearing agent have just relied upon the technicalities and have no plausible rebuttal to the charge of submitting tempered and back-dated Bills of Landing, which are untrue in material particulars and cleared the banned goods through that fraud.

In view of the finding the consignments of CNG Cylinders liable for out-right confiscation have already been released fraudulently, therefore Customs Adjudication imposed a penalty equal to two times customs value of the offending goods on the importer M/s Zam Zam Gas (CNG), Rawalpindi and 100 percent customs value of the offending goods on the clearing agent M/s Shoan Cargo Services.