KARACHI: Customs Appraisement West has secured additional 5-day physical remand of importers and clearings agents, for fraudulent manipulation of the WeBOC and PSW system to avail unauthorized “open account” mode of import transaction in the Goods Declaration to bypass the mandatory Financial Instrument (FI)/ Electronic Import Forms (EIFs) requirement for remittance against import consignment.

Muhammad Riaz prepared a good prosecution case and convinced the Court for granting additional remand, as the accused are known to be habitual offenders.

The scam was detected by the vigilant staff of the Appraisement West, who booked ten importers and four clearing agents for their involvement in the crime. The Collector MCC Appraisement West Muhammad Irfan Wahid passed the information to the Additional Collector Javed Sarwar Sheikh, who directed the Deputy Collector Jawad-Ul-Hassan to form a team to investigate the matter.

The team, comprising PA Amjad Iqbal, AO Mujahid Iqbal, and AO Muhammad Riaz, scrutinized the data of clearance under open account received from WeBOC and PSW teams. They found that certain importers and Customs agents had bypassed the standard procedure for filing of Goods Declaration by circumventing the inbuilt validation checks in the WeBOC system and managed to file GDs without the mandatory EIF/FI or proper authorization for open account mode of transaction in the system.

The team also found that the importers had declared the goods as scrap, but in fact they were importing prime quality steel products, which attracted higher duty and taxes. The team seized the goods and arrested the importers and agents involved in the scam. Muhammad Riaz prepared a strong prosecution case and convinced the Court to extend the remand of the accused for further interrogation.

The scam was not limited to Appraisement West, as similar cases were also detected by the Appraisement East and Port Qasim. On the instruction of Collector Appraisement East Jameel Baloch, Deputy Collector Romaila Jacob formed a team to scrutinize the import data. The team lodged an FIR against seven importers and one Customs agent for misusing the open account mode of payment and importing steel products under the garb of scrap.

Similarly, on the instructions of Collector Port Qasim Nasir Jameel, the CIU team also lodged an FIR against one importer and one agent for the same offence. The teams also seized the goods and arrested the culprits.

The Customs authorities have taken serious notice of the scam and have initiated strict measures to prevent such malpractices in the future. The authorities have also warned the importers and agents to refrain from indulging in any illegal activities, as they will face severe consequences if caught. The authorities have also appreciated the efforts of the officers and staff who busted the scam and brought the offenders to justice.