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KARACHI: How did this expensive stolen vehicle ‘Bentley Mulsanne’ reach Karachi from London? This is the most asked question since the story was first published in Business Recorder on September 3, 2022.

Officials in Metropolitan Police (Met Police), New Scotland Yard, London said that a Bentley Mulsanne had been stolen from Leicester Gardens, W2 in London on October 19, 2019. As a result, an investigation for the recovery of the one out of the 100th Bentley Mulsanne has begun.

Read: Bentley Mulsanne stolen from London recovered in Karachi

Officials from the Met Police had no explanation for why it took nearly 22 months to locate the stolen Bentley Mulsanne, which is outfitted with a sophisticated tracking system that can be used to precisely detect stolen vehicles and alert its whereabouts through GPS.

However, they confirmed that information regarding the stolen Bentley Mulsanne was flagged to the National Crime Agency (NCA) for further action.

Met Police New Scotland Yard officials refused to comment further on anything related to this case. “There is no ongoing Met police investigation at this time. If any further information comes to light, this will be assessed and investigated accordingly,” Officials in Met Police said.

On July 27, 2021, NCA sent a letter to the then collector customs enforcement Mohammad Saqif Saeed, sharing the details of the vehicle and the location (15-B South 10th Street DHA, Karachi) where it was parked.

However, the customs department for unknown reasons took 14 months to take action on the information and recovered this expensive vehicle on August 30, 2022, from the same location indicated by the NCA when PM Shehbaz Sharif was in the office.

The customs officials denied having any external pressure to pursue the case that led to 14 months for the recovery of this stolen vehicle, saying that the NCA officials delivered this letter to the then collector in person hence the department has no information about this letter. The action was taken when the official reminder was received from the NCA in May 2022.

Sources privy to the case confirmed that the Bentley Mulsanne, which was reported stolen from Leicester Gardens, W2 in London on October 19, 2019, was transported to Antwerp, Belgium via Paris France, and then it was shipped to Karachi from the port of Antwerp after fulfilling all legal formalities.

“It is not the first stolen vehicle, which was brought to Pakistan; several cases had been reported in past when the vehicles were shipped to Pakistan on legal documents that were reported stolen in the UK to claim insurance amount,” sources said.

The possibility of the same modus operandi, in this case, cannot be ruled out as the transit time between London to Antwerp Belgium via Paris France, and then the port of Antwerp to Karachi is over 40 days but the Bentley Mulsanne, which was supposed to arrive at Karachi port in early December 2019, reached in November 2019, sources said.

The customs department has already restricted the clearance of any vehicle imported from the United Kingdom without proper verification from concerned authorities in the UK, due to this reason, sources said.

However, in this case, the vehicle was imported from Belgium by the former Bulgarian ambassador Aleksandar Parashkevov, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued an exemption certificate hence the vehicle was released by the customs department without verification, sources said.

The case report prepared by the customs department confirmed that the vehicle arrived at Karachi port in November 2019 and was got cleared by the main accused Navaid Yamin on December 7, 2019 while using the exemption certificate issued to the former Bulgarian ambassador Alexander Parashkevov by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

When approached, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Bulgaria confirmed that Alexander Parashkevov is not currently a member of the Bulgarian diplomatic service.

The MFA Bulgaria said that it has employed the relevant procedures and brought the case before the competent judicial institutions and fulfilled all its obligations related to the matter, while upholding all relevant conventions.

Furthermore, it said that over the course of its 144 years of history, the Bulgarian diplomatic service has consistently strived to uphold the highest possible standards in observance of all relevant conventions etc. In principle, whenever the circumstances stipulate action, relevant measures are employed to ensure adequate management and optimal performance.

MFA, Bulgaria claimed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan deregistered the vehicle a year ago, which was registered in the name of Alexander Parashkevov, who served as Ambassador Bulgaria in Islamabad during the period September 2019 - September 2020.

However, the Bentley is still registered with the registration number (BRS-279) with the Sindh Excise department in the name of Bulgarian former Ambassador Alexander Parashkevov, who was already terminated by the President of the Republic of Bulgaria in October 2020 for accepting a huge bribe to import this luxurious vehicle under his diplomatic status for the main accused Navaid Yamin.

The accused Navaid Yamin sold this vehicle to another accused Jamil Shafi allegedly through the accused broker Naveed Bilwani and received the payments, which was clearly reflected in bank accounts of the accused Navaid Yamin, the document said.

It further revealed that the accused Yamin was also involved in liquor smuggling cases imported under the garb of diplomatic consignments destined for the Embassies in the year 2020.

A syndicate was involved in the import of duty-free vehicles by abusing diplomatic privileges and exemptions, the report said.

The accused Jamil Shafi made a deal to buy the impounded car at merely a fraction of the actual value of Bentley Mulsanne while the accused Bilwani received PKR one million as broker fees between Jamil Shafi and Navaid Yamin who was the mastermind of the smuggling of this vehicle, the report revealed.

The accused Jamil was granted bail against a surety of Rs2 million and his passport is deposited in the trial court while accused Bilwani’s bail was rejected.

However, the accused Navaid Yamin has secured protective bails from different High Courts. Firstly, he obtained protective bail from Sindh High Court Circuit Branch Hyderabad on August 31, 2022, wherein the court directed the accused Navaid to surrender before the trial court within 07 days without touching the merits of the case but he did not appear in the trial court within the time period.

Later, he approached the Lahore High Court for protective transit bail on September 01, 2022, and then he approached Sindh High Court, Karachi on September 09, 2022, and filed Constitutional Petition no 5267 of 2022 (Navaid Yamin Vs. Federation of Pakistan & 04 others) and obtained bail order from the court. The court has directed him to join the investigation but he has not complied yet, the case report said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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