FIA obtains 3-year data of officers postings at Torkham, vehicles passing through border

KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has secured 3-year data pertaining to the postings of Customs officers/officials at Torkham station, vehicles passing through the border, scanning reports and assessment reports of crossing the border, as investigations proceed in the mega scam wherein hundreds of containers were cleared without payment of duty and taxes.

The FIA has developed the case and FIRs would be lodged in a couple of days.

After issuing red flag about mega scandal by Director General (DG) Customs Intelligence Zahid Kokhar for clearance of 350 containers at Torkham border without payment of duty/taxes in writing, the PTI-led government issued orders for transfer/posting of 13 officials of Customs Group.

It is one of the biggest scandals surfaced in the FBR during last one and a half years’ rule of PTI-led government. The Member Customs Operation Jawad Uwais Agha was made OSD with immediate effect. Mr Agha was going to retire from the service on February 24, 2020 after reaching at the age of superannuation.

Through official record available with tax authorities, around 0.4 million tons of wheat/flour was exported to Afghanistan during the current fiscal year. Now Prime Minister Imran Khan has assigned the FIA to probe this alleged scam.

It was known that the wheat was exported/smuggled to Afghanistan as price of wheat in Afghanistan was Rs110/kg, while the local market price was Rs75/kg. Now Pakistan is exporting 0.3 million tons of wheat from Australia at Rs150/kg.

An official said Afghanistan could have imported this wheat, but the corruption and direct involvement of certain elements in Pakistan enabled the neighboring country save its foreign exchange. This is a double jeopardy as Pakistan would have to pay in foreign exchange for the imported wheat as well as pay subsidy on this imported commodity.

It was also known that a conflict has developed between Prime Minister Imran Khan and a powerful aide who is not in the government on this issue.

It may be mentioned here that Customs Preventive and Customs Intelligence and Investigation are also investigating the case and a number of FIRs have already been lodged against staff of Customs, NLC Torkham and several others.

An official said there was extreme shortage of staff at Torkham border and a large number of private persons (Lappo) were working at the Customs station. Moreover, the role of National Logistics Cell (NLC) is also very important in this scam. It may be mentioned here that most of the staff at NLC Torkham were relatives and associates of Customs agents and importers.

Last year Customs Preventive and Customs Appraisement were separated, which made it quite difficult to keep a check on consignments passing through the border.

 

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