ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Thursday authorised its customs officials to freeze and forfeit assets to the federal government including both movable and immovable properties suspected of having been acquired through proceeds of smuggling.
The FBR has issued Forfeiture of Property Rules, 2021, here on Thursday.
According to the new rules, it shall not be lawful for any person to hold assets acquired through proceeds of smuggling either directly in his own name or indirectly in the name of any relative or associate.
Where a person is found to hold any assets in contravention of the provisions of the Customs Act, 1969, such assets shall be liable to be forfeited to the federal government in accordance with the provisions of the Customs Act.
The property, so forfeited, shall be disposed of by the administrator or any other Customs officer authorised by Collector after completion of legal formalities.
The movable property shall be disposed of through public auction and shall be governed by Chapter V (Auction), of the Customs Rules, 2001, and the disposal of immovable property shall be governed by Chapter XI (Recovery of Arrears), Part III and Part IV, of the Customs Rules, 2001.
During the investigation or trial of an offence of smuggling, the Collector or an officer authorised in this behalf under Section 163 of the Customs Act, 1969, shall trace and identify assets for the purpose of forfeiture by the special judge, regarding which suspicion arises of having been acquired by any person through proceeds of smuggling and holds them either directly in his name or indirectly in the name of his relatives or associates.
This may include inquiry, investigation in respect of any premises, place, property, conveyance, documents, and books of accounts.
The rules said that whenever an Officer of Customs has reasons to believe that within the limits of his jurisdiction any person, either in his own name or on behalf of any relative or associate holds any assets, which are reasonably suspected of having been acquired through proceeds of smuggling, the officer of customs after obtaining approval from Collector may freeze such assets for 15 days and before the expiry of 15 days the freezing order shall be submitted to the Court of the Special Judge Customs with the grounds on which such freezing was carried out and further continuation of the freezing or forfeiture shall so be decided by the Court.
Where the Special Judge trying an offence of smuggling is satisfied that there appear reasonable grounds that accused has committed such an offence, he may order the freezing of assets of the accused, his relatives and associates, the FBR stated.
The Collector shall have the power to require any officer or authority of the Federal Government including civil armed forces and the Federal Investigation Agency or a provincial government including police and revenue authorities or a local authority or any financial institution to furnish any information in relation to such persons, property, assets or other matters as are, in his opinion, useful.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021