KARACHI: Customs Intelligence and Investigation Karachi has lodged an FIR against Export Processing Zone (EPZ) Investor and others for importing banned items in the garb of goods meant for EPZ, and then disposing the smuggled goods during the transit.
Information was received through Director Khalil Yousafani that certain elements at Karachi Export Processing Zone (KEPZ) were involved in the smuggling of betel nut in the garb of used clothing.
It was also known that betel nut was concealed in the bales of used clothing imported for KEPZ, while the containers after being cleared from Appraisement Collectorate were going to private warehouses.
One such consignment cleared from MCC Appraisement West meant for KEPZ was taken to a warehouse situated at SITE area, Karachi instead of KEPZ.
On the directives of Additional Director Rana Tasleem, Deputy Director Tauseef Gorchani formed a team of ASO led by Muhammad Sadiq, which tracked the above mentioned container laden vehicle was found at the warehouse of in SITE Area Karachi. The doors of the container were found opened by removing the nuts bolts, while the Customs seal was intact.
The driver of the vehicle informed the Customs staff that one Sikander Munshi and Ali, an employee of M/s SAS Trader brought the vehicle for unloading and replacing of cargo.
On query from the driver Abdul Wahab regarding the unloading of the goods placed in the loaded container at the warehouse the driver identified as Abdul Wahab stated that one person namely Sikandar advised him to reach the aforesaid warehouse at SITE Area Karachi instead of KEPZ.
Sikandar himself escorted his vehicle loaded with container from KICT to the warehouse. The container was loaded with 17.5 tons of betel nut concealed in used clothing bales weighing 8.86 tons.
Preliminary investigations found that M/s SAS Pvt Ltd, KEPZ had imported the used clothing from Dubai, and Sikander of M/s Sarhad Logistics Pvt Ltd transferred the consignment to the warehouse of instead of KEPZ to hoodwink the authorities and smuggle betel nut.
An FIR is lodged and investigations are underway. This is the second case of mis-declaration and smuggling through misuse of KEPZ in a month.
Additional Director Rana Tasleem, Deputy Director Tauseef Gorchani are focused on KEPZ and due their vigilance the illegal removal of goods to local markets under the garb of garbage had also stopped. An official said goods imported duty-free at KEPZ were being supplied to local markets/commercial markets for a long time as these goods including electronics, auto parts, cloth, contraband items etc. were moved from KEPZ in garbage dumpers concealed under thin layer of trash, and all this business was running under the patronage of KEPZ officers.
An official said this was not the first time KEPZ investors indulged in smuggling. Many of the KEPZ investors and KEPZ officers were involved in smuggling and misuse of the facility.
An official said the EPZ investors and clearing agents were highly influential and the policies were being framed as per their wishes, such as the tracking of vehicles carrying KEPZ goods was stopped, while there is no scanning and examination of imports meant for KEPZ. On the other hand Customs had almost no jurisdiction and powers in KEPZ.
An official said Export Processing Zones could contribute a lot to the national economy but due to mismanagement and corruption, KEPZ was causing huge loss to the national exchequer as well the as the economy.
An official said KEPZ had become a real estate business where the unscrupulous elements had jacked up the prices of plots in KEPZ over the roof, this is because of ample opportunities and support of KEPZ officers for undertaking scams and frauds.