KARACHI: The Directorate of Intelligence & Investigation-Customs, Karachi has lodged a First Information Report (FIR) against 12 importers, including M/s Bahawalpur Steel Mills, for allegedly laundering money through illegal channels and evading duties and taxes by claiming false exemptions.

Information was passed through Director I&I Karachi Engineer Habib Ahmed to Additional Director Afzaal Wattoo that the importers were circumventing the mandatory requirement of issuing Electronic Import Form (EIF) to the shippers abroad, which is a proof of remittance of foreign exchange through legal banking channel. Instead, the importers were wrongly claiming the exemption of duties and taxes under Chapter 99 of the Pakistan Customs Tariff (PCT), which is meant for goods imported for charitable purposes or under special arrangements.

The Directorate identified 20 Goods Declarations (GDs) filed by the 12 importers in which the exemption of Chapter 99 was availed and the EIF was not submitted to Customs for clearance of the goods. The importers and their clearing agents failed to discharge their duty of true declaration under Section 79 of the Customs Act, 1969, and committed mis-declaration under Section 32 of the same Act.

The Directorate served notices to the importers on 6th February 2024, asking them to furnish information about the legal channel through which they had remitted the foreign exchange to the shippers abroad. However, none of the importers responded to the notices, implying that they had transferred USD 336,737 to their foreign shippers through illegal means.

The Directorate has reasons to believe that the 12 importers, with the support of their accomplices, are involved in the offence of money laundering under Sections 3 and 4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010, and has initiated legal action against them.