KARACHI: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has struck plea bargains with three accused including Kashif Hussain, Samiullah and Muhammad Nasir, who had admitted defrauding Customs authorities. The accused would pay Rs22.5 million under the deal.
NAB is mandated to recover the looted public money and money made from corruption. But, the Bureau is only recovering peanuts through making plea bargains rather in haste, while the culprits are getting clean chits.
National Accountability Bureau (NAB), in September this year, had asked MCC Appraisement East to provide import data relating to import of used clothing in the past one and a half year as part of investigations in the case of clearance of high value and restricted goods in the garb of used clothing.
NAB was provided the I-Forms relating to the import of used clothing consignments, the channel these consignments were cleared from as well as details regarding importers, clearing agents and Customs Assessment staff clearing the used clothing consignments.
M/s Reliable Associates, M/s Vital Trade International, M/s Shahab Traders, M/s Vinsome Packages and M/s Royal Packages were misusing concessionary SROs to evade government revenue worth billions of rupees. These people had been in Customs frauds and evasion for many years.
However, the NAB authorities spared the culprits against Rs22.5 million only. One container of used clothing attracts taxes of Rs150,000 at most. The accused cleared hundreds of containers loaded with high value electronics, fabric and other goods against payment of mere Rs150,000 per container.
An official said such plea bargains in high profile cases would only encourage the culprits. It seems that officials were making under-the-table deals for themselves on the cost of national exchequer.
t may be mentioned here that smuggling through borders is very expensive, and it does not affect government revenue a lot. But, smuggling through Customs i.e. misuse of green channel facility, mis-declaration and replacement of transshipment cargo, and now replacement of containerized cargo at terminals, is easy and cheap.
It is interesting to note that the Inland Revenue wing of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) issued a statement that a large number of fake and bogus companies were detected, which had been formed and registered with Inland Revenue to evade taxes.
An official said IR was only trying to save themselves with such statements because it was Inland Revenue that registered these companies as manufacturers without due process for obvious reasons.
President Dr Arif Alvi Friday promulgated the NAB Amendment Ordinance 2019 — a move that curtails the sweeping powers of the anti-corruption watchdog to act against any individual accused of corruption at will.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said as the business community was fearful of the National Accountability Bureau, therefore, his government has just taken the right step to promulgate a new ordinance to amend the NAB law. Now because of it, businessmen of the country are no more under the ambit of NAB.
Commenting on the development, an official said the definition of ‘businessmen’ should be properly defined because every tax evader, smuggler and money launderer claims to be a ‘businessman’. It needs to be clarified whether these elements would also remain out of the ambit of NAB.