KARACHI: A customs court on Wednesday granted bail to the local buyer of the Bentley Mulsanne, said to be stolen from the United Kingdom and recovered from a Defence Housing Authority (DHA) house recently.
Judge Muhammad Saad Qureshi granted bail to suspect Jameel Shafi against a surety of Rs2 million and directed the prison authorities to release the suspect forthwith if his custody was not required in any other case.
However, the judge dismissed the bail application of another held suspect, Naveed Bilwani, who allegedly facilitated clearance of the documents of the imported high-end car.
The Sindh excise department’s online vehicle verification portal had revealed that the ‘2014 model Bentley’ (BRS279) was registered on May 21, 2020 in the name of ‘Aleksandar Borisov Parashkevov’ of Bulgaria.
Last week, the investigation officer of the case had filed an interim charge sheet against the duo and their absconding accomplice Navaid Yameen.
He alleged that both the held suspects had smuggled the vehicle evading taxes and duties worth approximately Rs300 million. They were also charged with violating “diplomatic impunity” and other Customs laws.
The interim charge sheet stated that a syndicate was involved in the import of vehicles at zero duty and taxes by abusing “diplomatic privileges and exemptions”.
Suspect Shafi had purchased the seized Bentley for Rs37.5m, which was a fraction of the vehicle’s actual value, stated the interim charge sheet.
It questioned whether it was not the responsibility of the purchaser to have all the documents of the vehicle, having diplomatic privileges, verified from the foreign affairs ministry and other departments.
It alleged that Shafi signed a sale agreement dated Sept 21, 2020, and paid a huge amount without any no-objection certificate from the either customs department or the foreign ministry and embassy of Bulgaria.
He allegedly purchased the vehicle from Yameen through a broker, Bilwani, who assured to get the car cleared from all the departments concerned within a period of two years, added the charge sheet.
Published in Dawn, September 22nd, 2022