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Customs high-ups get off scot-free in illegal freight clearance case

Updated Mar 26, 2017 08:08am

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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is yet to take disciplinary action against top customs officers involved in clearing more than 50 containers carrying high-duty goods on fake documents from the Model Customs Collectorate of Port Qasim between May 2012 and July 2013.

The goods had been moved from Port Qasim over 15 months and the FBR had uncovered the scam in 2013-2014. Some of the freight was later recovered from various warehouses in Karachi.

Sources told Dawn that a similar case had emerged in 2006-07, when 265 containers had been removed illegally from Port Qasim without examination or payment of duties based on fake customs documents. After the investigation, several top customs officers were issued charge sheets and disciplinary proceedings were initiated against them.

The inquiry officer who had investigated that scam was entrusted with the task of looking into the May 2012-July 2013 case. In his inquiry report, the officer proposed that explanations must be sought from senior customs officers posted at Port Qasim during the clearance of the 50 containers.

Sources disclosed that while the FBR had sought explanations from senior officers in 2015-16, this time around it was reluctant to initiate formal departmental proceedings against top officers. “This clearly shows that the FBR is unwilling to probe senior officers [involved] in the scam,” the sources said.

According to the sources, the FBR had also failed to issue instructions or directives to ensure effective customs control at the port and to check such irregularities or scams in the future. As the containers had been cleared without examination by customs officers, no one knew what the containers were carrying, they said.

An FBR official, however, said that the FBR had recovered Rs18.91m from 10 people involved in illegally moving 33 containers of taxable imported goods at Port Qasim, Karachi. He said they had managed to recover freight from 33 containers, while the whereabouts of goods stashed in 17 containers were not known. Customs intelligence officials had arrested six people in this connection. Although no senior officer had been penalised, he explained that several junior customs officers had been issued charge sheets and suspended.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2017

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Comments (20) Closed



Pragmatic approach Mar 26, 2017 08:31am

Ministry of Finance can relieve the FBR Officers by simply invoking Customs Duty on " gross weight" and "gross volume"on commodities. Such a system already in practice in some countries.Hence no corruption,and goods can be cleared in one day,will avoid congestion at port.But such a reformatory steps needs lion hearted political decisions, as often seen FBR Officers too are recruited or posted on their political affiliations,and they are awarded lucrative posts enabling them to earn corruption money. So who will bell the cat,is difficult question, remains to be answered, the status quo,suits the officers which provide them maximum perks and hidden incomes.These hidden income is practically a corruption which is nothing but a drogue parachute,which slows down our rapid economic developments,and put us in difficult situations forcing us to request loans from IMF,WB,ADB,to continue our development projects,and to redress our budget deficits,or control our balance of payments.

Shazad Mar 26, 2017 08:43am

Army was ruling in 2006-07, so it is obvious that they would work for the country, do investigation and punish culprits harming Pakistan and Pakistani interest. Well, they occasionally have to give their lives to safeguard Pakistan, so how can they allow others to harm Pakistan.

This time situation is different. Today, democracy is in power where corrupt and moral-less rulers are more interested in making money for themselves, looting and plundering the country, making assets aborad at the expense of Pakistan and poor Pakistanis. It is ridiculous to expect that they or institutions under their control could or would act against corruption and those harming the country?

So, such news are not news, as all what is happening is expected.

Sami Mar 26, 2017 09:00am

Don't take actions against CSP officers. They are sacred cows. If they loot country, let them do it, this country is for politicians, bureaucracy and army.

Salar Mar 26, 2017 09:09am

In Pakistan, accountability starts at the bottom, not the top. Always the case! Maybe Panamagate will help solve this.

muhammad yousuf saleem Mar 26, 2017 10:46am

this is not new that custom officials help businessmen for tax evasion.they are so tough with passengers at the airports for petty items of personal baggage.but at the same time how they are clearing containers with unpaid custom duties.

Ayub Mar 26, 2017 10:48am

Why not Joint custom inspection team comprising member from Custom,Army,Police,Business Community and Local bodies are formed to clear the goods.There will be no leakage as well as the imported will be satisfied too.In present scenario,there is lot of corruption as all is handled internally by same department.

MASTER Mar 26, 2017 11:19am

This is criminal. No one knows what's inside these containers and what they used for. PMLn should take the case seriously otherwise it will seriously hurt them in coming elections.

Lafanga Mar 26, 2017 11:33am

Well what is expected in a country where someone like Ayan Ali going scot free even after getting busted with half a million dollars cash stashed in a suitcase.

Imran Mar 26, 2017 11:47am

Not only in custom Department but the idea should be implemented in each department. A joint investigation committee and members from each law enforcement agencies comprising police should be placed at each port,airport,police,fia,nab and in all other departments

ABE Mar 26, 2017 12:53pm

There is no corruption in Pakistan. Just misunderstandings or privileges.

Or simple jealousy, that some are able to import so many containers, while you and I cannot even load 4 kgs of excess baggage on a plane or not quizzed by the customs on arrival?

Nothing surprises me about Pakistan.

ishrat salim Mar 26, 2017 01:23pm

When corruption is from the PM level, every dept will be involved in this crime.

ishrat salim Mar 26, 2017 01:31pm

@MASTER nothing will hurt the vote bank of PML N, bcz money will speak during election time.

sHAKIR LAKHANI Mar 26, 2017 01:39pm

The Customs appraiser is a very powerful man. He demands a bribe even when he knows that the importer is honest and is not indulging in under-invoicing or mis-declaration. The poor importer has no choice but to pay him because he knows that the appraiser can either impose a very high rate of duty or delay the clearance of the consignment by sending it for chemical examination and testing, which can take several days. The demurrage cost is Rs. 2,000 per day. It is necessary to curb the powers of the appraiser so he cannot harass importers.

Ayub Mar 26, 2017 03:01pm

@sHAKIR LAKHANI .Your observation is very true.The time has come that Pakistan to rise economically if corruption is nailed in all segment of our society.We wait for SC for Panama.

Parvez Mar 26, 2017 03:33pm

its just something the people expect.

hakim Mar 26, 2017 04:36pm

@Sami Army is not involved in FBR or customs's affairs. It is between these departments and they look after each other's interests and their political Masters.

Adil Jadoon Mar 26, 2017 04:54pm

Corruption is the one thing we excel at! Ever seen a mullah condemn it?

M Mirza Mar 27, 2017 12:37am

@Pragmatic approach Every body gets a share including Finance ministry. So why would they kill a Goose that lays golden eggs.

amir khan Mar 27, 2017 06:40am

Nothing new. It is an old, well-entrenched practice in not only customs but all other departments as well.

anonie Mar 27, 2017 06:49am

All of these corrupt custom officials (especially the seniors) should be thrown behind bars.