NAB takes over Customs case, issues arrest warrants of officers and officials

KARACHI: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has taken over the case, which may be the biggest scam in the history of Pakistan Customs, as certain elements in Customs are protecting the accused culprits and weakening the prosecution.

NAB has issued warrants of arrest-inquiry against officers/officials of Customs department and others regarding illegal imports of electronics and grey fabric in the garb of second hand clothing causing loss to national exchequer.

NAB has issued non-bailable warrants of arrest of Muhammad Idrees s/o Yousaf; Muhammad Ali s/o Muhamad Idrees and Imran Khan s/o Saif-ur-Rehman.

The high value and high tariff goods were being cleared from MCC Appraisement East in the garb of used clothing. Anti-Smuggling Organization (ASO) of MCC Preventive Karachi had detected the case and Deputy Collector Akbar Jan efficiently pursued the investigations.

Anti-Smuggling Organization (ASO) Preventive Karachi has arrested Aslam aka Aini as investigations into the clearance of high value goods in the garb of used clothing make progress.

Aslam was arrested after an already arrested accused Imran Khan shared valuable information with the ASO team led by Deputy Collector Akbar Jan and IPS Iftikhar Hasan. Imran Khan was arrested from Askari-IV a few days ago in relation of clearing high value goods and restricted goods in the garb of used clothing from green channel. He is also involved in fraudulent removal of seized/confiscated containers and replacement of transshipment cargo etc.

Sources said around 80 containers of high value goods including electronics were cleared through mis-declaration. After that MCC Appraisement lodged an FIR pertaining to a container, which already was stopped by ASO Preventive.

Two more containers of cloth were detected by ASO Preventive after MCC East FIR, but no FIR was lodged after one and a half month. MCC Appraisement East made no special team to investigate this mega scam.

Hundreds of containers were cleared in this fraudulent manner in the last six months, and after that MCC Appraisement East transferred the entire R&D team, which comprised of competent officials. After the R&D team was weakened, the fraudulent clearing of high value goods gained pace.

Sources said an Appraiser, Principal Appraiser, Assistant Collector and some senior officers are involved and patronizing the scammers.

Sources said ASO Preventive was actively and efficiently pursuing the investigations, but the prosecution is under the influence of another officer formerly in MCC Preventive, and case was weakened resulting in the bail of Aslam Aini.

M/s M.M Traders, Imran Khan, Aslam Aini, Kashif of M/s Khurram Steel, Muhammad Idrees, Moiz Bhawan, Akif and certain others are involved in under invoicing, mis-declaration, TP replacement, smuggling through diplomatic consignments, EPZ cargo replacement etc.

Sources said all these accused are just the pawns, and authorities have identified one Shafique based in Dubai, an investor in Lahore, Nisar Khan a contractor providing labour to terminals including PICT, KICT, AL-HAMD, PAK SHAHEEN, MTO, QICT.

It may be mentioned here that earlier when there was manual system of Customs clearance there were several checks and balances, but under a pre-planned scheme green channel facility was introduced in the name of trade facilitation and reforms. After that checks and balances were removed and officers were accessible to traders, importers and customs agents opening a flood gate of corruption.

The measures taken by the Board have only discouraged legal imports, as most of the goods that were being legally imported earlier are now being smuggled. The increased duties, stringent curbs and regulatory hurdles have only deprived the government of revenue it collected on legitimate imports.

In the case of smuggling, government does not earn any revenue, but some of the officers in the system whether it is Customs, Inland Revenue, border security etc, make tons of money, which is ultimately moved out of the country.

It seems that anti-Pakistan elements have always been in the ranks whether it is government, bureaucracy or defense, and they are implementing their agenda quite efficiently so far. An official said that as a practice, officers went abroad for trainings and courses, and many of them indulged in corruption and anti-state practices after their return.

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