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The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to submit a detailed report within two weeks on measures taken to recover money from individuals who received undue tax refunds through fraud. FBR Chairman Shabbar Zaidi told the court that the body had sent a summary to the Prime Minister's Office for approval to initiate an inquiry against three people who are suspected of establishing fake companies.
The court told the FBR chief to additionally submit a written report pertaining to the developments in the case in two weeks. Zaidi said that more time will be required to prepare the report and requested the bench for the same, but the court turned down his request. "This is a matter of Rs 90 million," remarked Justice Gulzar Ahmed, who was heading the two-member bench hearing the case.
"Rs 90 million went missing from the national kitty and no one knows about it," he questioned. Justice Gulzar came down hard on the FBR for its poor performance, saying that the board is "protecting its employees" who are suspected to be complicit in the matter.
"How many employees does the FBR have?" he asked. Zaidi told him that the institution has 21,500 employees. "The salaries of the employees alone probably surpass the recoveries made by FBR," Justice Ahmed remarked. He said those who are found guilty of creating fake companies to commit tax fraud can be sentenced to jail for up to five years, in addition to being ordered to pay back money they received as refunds.
The hearing was adjourned for an indefinite period. The FBR is currently taking action against the people suspected of committing tax fraud through ghost companies and fake accounts. In May this year, the FBR's Directorate General of Broadening of Tax Base had unearthed massive sales and income tax fraud through a network of fake accounts in sugar and textile sectors. The racket involved a chain of ghost entities in sugar and textile sectors who were allegedly involved in fake sales.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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