KARACHI: Sources have revealed that sensitive agencies have joined the probe into the massive money laundering scam involving solar panel imports. The agencies have approached Customs authorities and sought all data related to the import of solar panels and the illegal transfer of money.
According to a recent report by the Directorate of Post Clearance Audit Customs South, solar panel importers have over invoiced their imports by Rs69.50 billion and moved black money out of the country. The report found that 63 importers imported solar panels at prices much higher than their market value, using the duty and tax-free import system. The report also exposed a discrepancy between the income tax returns and the financial volume of the importers, as well as significant cash deposits and remittances to third countries.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has intervened and asked the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to take action against the culprits. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has also urged federal ministries to compile a list of reputable solar panel importers who can be granted import permissions without the risk of money laundering and over-invoicing. The FBR assigned the PCA South Directorate to conduct sector-wise audits of solar panel importers to investigate the matter.
Sources said that the scam was first detected by then Collector Appraisement West Shahnaz Maqbool about five years ago during 2017-18. Shahnaz Maqbool, a reputed and competent officer, initiated scrutiny and informed FBR of the case. However, FBR high-ups then ignored Maqbool’s findings and no action was taken. Instead, Shahnaz Maqbool was removed from her office and subjected to fake cases on the behest of smugglers and money-launderers who had full patronage of influential people in FBR and elsewhere.