Torkham Customs scandal is not a farce, insists DG Customs Intelligence & Investigation

KARACHI: Director General Customs Intelligence and Investigation Zahid Khokhar held a meeting with acting Chairperson Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Ms. Nausheen, and informed her that 150 more containers had been detected which were cleared from Torkham Customs Station without filing of GD and payment of duty and taxes.

These 150 containers were cleared in December 2019 and are in addition to already reported 355 containers.

Zahid Khokhar informed the Chairperson FBR that the report of reconciliation of containers submitted by Customs Appraisement was a cover-up adding that Customs I&I was staying strong on its report.

DG Customs Intelligence and Investigation maintained that Customs Intelligence had seized dozens of trucks loaded with smuggled fruits, and the same had been auctioned.

Sources said in Customs I&I said MCC Appraisement Peshawar had been making manual entries pertaining to the identified containers, while there was no record in the WeBOC system. Moreover, this exercise was initiated after the report prepared by the Directorate General.

Sources in Appraisement Peshawar said the Torkham Station was made operation for 24/7 services without proper arrangements. It was a pre-mature step given unavailability of staff and infrastructure. Moreover, Customs Appraisement and Customs Preventive were separated, which weakened the enforcement.

Sources said it needed to be investigated why was the Trokham station made 24/7 operational in a haphazard way and enforcement was weakened.

The officials said the role of NLC staff needed to be ascertained in this scam, as most of NLC staff at Torkham terminal comprised of Shinwari tribe people who were relatives and associates of the traders/importers. The role of PRAL staff is also suspicious and needs to be investigated.

Senior Customs Officers are of the view that the dispute between Appraisement Peshawar and Customs I&I was causing disrepute to the department and senior officers, which was inappropriate. Pakistan customs was playing a very efficient role in eliminating smuggling and plugging revenue leakage and even gave sacrifices for the cause. The report of this scandal by Customs I&I was not meant to target any officer or officers, in fact it was in the larger national interest

Senior officers are of the view that an impartial fact-finding committee should be formed to bring the true facts to light. Such a committee may be headed by PCS officer Gul Rehman (BS-21), who is a very honest and competent officer. Gul Rehman successfully and impartially conducted several inquiries pertaining to mega scams.

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