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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has imposed a major penalty of dismissal from services on three Customs inspectors of Islamabad, who fraudulently cleared high-value imported items (mobile phones, wrist watches and cosmetics etc), involving around Rs 7 billion, under cover of helicopter parts.

The FBR has issued three notifications here on Friday to penalize the involved officers in the scam.

According to the FBR’s notifications, the FBR has dismissed from services Aziz-Ur Rehman, Customs Inspector; Usman Ali, Customs Inspector and Sehrish Nazir Customs Inspector.

FBR suffered no loss on account of ‘unlawful clearance’ of goods during import ban?

The charitable foundation was not aware that its name has been fraudulently used to import high-value imported consignments without payment of duties and taxes.

The name of the foundation was misused by the involved officers. The customs clearing agents in connivance of the said customs inspectors committed revenue loss to the tune of around Rs 7 billion to the national exchequer.

The outdated One-Customs clearance system was used to clear the imported consignments that were required to be cleared through the automated WEBOC system.

Details revealed that the disciplinary proceedings were initiated against these Inspectors Customs (BS-16) of Collectorate of Customs, Islamabad on charges of “Inefficiency” & “Misconduct” under Rule-3(a)&(b) of the Government Servants (Efficiency & Discipline) Rules, 1973.

An inquiry committee comprising, of Rizwan Salabat, (PCS/BS-20), the then Additional Collector, Collectorate of Customs, Islamabad and Farheen Zahra, Deputy Collector, Collectorate of Customs, Islamabad was constituted to conduct the inquiry against the accused officer.

Brief facts are that the Directorate of Intelligence & Investigation-Customs, Rawalpindi raided the Air Freight Unit (AFU) of the Collectorate of Customs, Islamabad and seized a consignment consisting of high value items such as smart mobile phones, wrist watches, wrist bands, cosmetics, and other miscellaneous imported goods.

The then Collector of Customs, Islamabad ordered a Fact-Finding Inquiry. The Fact-Finding Report established that apart from the one consignment seized by the Directorate of I&I, there were Eighty (80) other Goods Declarations (GDs) which had already been cleared during the Financial Year 2019-2020 in the name of Agha Khan Foundation and declared as “Helicopter Parts” without payment of duty and taxes. When approached by the Collectorate, the Agha Khan Foundation stated in writing that it had not imported the said consignments and that the Clearing Agent had misused the Foundation’s name.

The Clearing Agent managed to bypass a number of standard operating procedures in clearance of Goods Declarations and had them gated out with connivance of the accused and others without payment of duty and taxes to the tune of Rs 6.797 billion and Rs 152.548 million.

The Adjudicating Authority in this case also observed that the scam could not have occurred without the involvement of Customs officials. Furthermore, Customs Appellate Tribunal Bench-1, Islamabad, vide two separate decisions dated 15-06-2023 has upheld the decision by the Adjudicating Authority.

During the inquiry proceedings the Inquiry Committee observed that Inspectors were posted in different during the currency of the scam, and Goods declarations (GDs) had been marked for examination.

The accused failed to carry out examination of the goods and furthermore failed to ensure or even inquire if the mandatory approval for filing of a Goods Declaration for One Customs was accorded or not. All goods being imported by the Agha Khan Foundation were being cleared through WeBOC - the successor clearing system of One Customs, yet the Inspector cleared the said GDs in “One Customs.”

The accused failed to carry out any of the required procedures under the law, and signed Delivery Orders effectively handing over the goods to the Clearing Agents without verifying the relevant documents to ensure that Customs Clearance had been done as per law. Concludingly, the Inquiry Committee observed that the Charges/Allegations against the accused Inspectors of the Collectorate of Customs, Islamabad, stand proven beyond any iota of doubt.

It was strange that the examiners (inspectors) of goods failed to object as to why the subject consignments were cleared from the One-Customs clearance system while simultaneously the same importer (Agha Khan Foundation) was filing goods declarations under the WEBOC system as normal routine practice.

The inspectors did not verify if the approval for filing goods declarations in One-Customs system has been accorded or not. This was done despite clear instructions from the FBR that approval for filing of GDs in the One-Customs would be accorded by the Collector.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

Comments

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Tulukan Mairandi Aug 26, 2023 09:03am
Biggest scammer is zardari
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NXT Aug 26, 2023 09:40am
Just the tip of the iceberg!
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Dawood Virani Aug 26, 2023 11:45am
There must a fine in billions for these officers who were involved in the scam and jail terms as well, otherwise more officers will do the same.
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Mansoor Aug 26, 2023 12:14pm
@Tulukan Mairandi, This is the attitude which doesn’t allow you to find the real culprits. 99% of our problems whether economic or otherwise are due to generals, judges and baboos. The politicians get the blame because only they have the authority to ask these rascals, so simply malign them..
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Arif Aug 26, 2023 01:47pm
This kind of scam cannot be possible without involvement of other people high up in the food chain .
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Mohsin Alim Qazi Aug 26, 2023 04:29pm
Nice retirement fund of nearly 7 billion rupees. Dismissal is a slap on the wrist and in worst case enquiry commiittee has also joined the billion rupee oarty
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Muhammad Sajjad Ashraff Aug 26, 2023 08:49pm
Such corrupt officials should hanged to eliminate corruption from this country as in Pakistan we have such culprits everywhere
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Yasir Aug 27, 2023 06:48am
This scam could not be committed without the connivance of Collector Customs, Deputy Collector Import , Assustant Collector and Superintendent / Principal Appraiser. Suspension of 3 iInspectors is mere eye wash. Who mark the GD for clearance and examination. Obviously Superintendent with the verbal orders of AC/DCs.All are knitted. Common man does not know your procedure.
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Saleem Munshi Aug 27, 2023 12:54pm
Just dismissal what a joke the accused and big fishes above them earned more than achievable during a single life span. Patriot certificates distributors are also beneficiaries of this scam.
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Ch. K A Nye Aug 27, 2023 01:43pm
This is a crime. Why aren't these people being prosecuted? Or are we going to see a plea-bargain for a miniscule part of the crime proceeds.
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Zarwa Aug 27, 2023 02:38pm
This is so wrong these CSPs blame everything on the BS-16 officers. When actually it is the CSPs that keep demanding more and more from field formations. Even the female CSP's demand 2000 rupees per day from one Inspector at Islamabad Collectorate. If they pay 60 thousand to CSP's they are left with no salary. Where do you think they get this money to pay forward? Grade 16 Inspectors cannot do such big scam. There are bigger pockets involved who used them due to their inexperience.
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Amir Aug 29, 2023 07:20pm
Only dismissed from service? Aren't they going to be prosecuted as any other 'ordinary' citizen would be?
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