KARACHI: The Directorate of Intelligence and Investigation (I&I) Karachi has cracked down on a money laundering racket involving 20 importers who allegedly siphoned off foreign exchange through illegal channels and evaded taxes by misdeclaring their imports.

According to an FIR lodged by I&I Karachi, the importers, who deal in various goods ranging from solar panels to dental supplies, imported 40 consignments from a foreign shipper and remitted $1.69 million to him without filing the Electronic Import Form (EIF), which is a mandatory requirement for all imports.

The FIR further stated that the importers also claimed inadmissible exemption from customs duty, sales tax, income tax and additional customs duty by submitting fake and forged documents. The importers have been accused of money laundering through proceeds of crime generated through commission of predicate offences of misdeclaration and fiscal fraud.

The FIR was lodged on the directives of Director I&I Karachi Engineer Habib Ahmed, who formed a team led by Additional Director Afzal Watto and Deputy Director Saud Hasan to investigate the case. The team conducted raids at the premises of the importers and seized relevant records and documents.

Earlier, the Model Customs Collectorate (MCC) Appraisement West had also lodged four FIRs against the same importers for misdeclaration and tax evasion. The case was detected by a team constituted by Collector Irfan Wahid and comprised of Additional Collector Javed Sarwar Shaikh and Investigation Officer Muhammad Riaz.

The I&I Karachi and MCC Appraisement West are jointly pursuing the case and have initiated legal action against the importers and their accomplices. The case is being seen as a major breakthrough in curbing money laundering and tax evasion in the country.

The accused importers include: M/s Uffan Traders, M/s Ayyaz Enterprises, M/s AM Associates, M/s Jelani Enterprises, M/s Skyelectric, SasPak Cargo, M/s RA Engineering, M/s Nadeem Associates, M/s Mediflux Services, Awan and Agha Associates, M/s MED Vision International, M/s Millenium Steel, M/s C&F Solutions Customs & Freight, M/s Mix Trade Enterprises, 3 Star Enterprises, Vista Impex, M/s Aliz International, M/s Humayun Dental Supplies, M/s Elahi Enterprises and M/s Salman Corporation.