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Customs, NLC to strengthen coordination at Torkham to curb smuggling: Assistant Collector Ali Asif

Customs, NLC to strengthen coordination at Torkham to curb smuggling: Assistant Collector Ali Asif

PESHAWAR: The Customs Collectorate Peshawar has posted assistant collector at Torkham permanently and has been given additional charge of Torkham.

Talking with Customs Today Assistant Collector Ali Asif said that 8 inspectors are posted and strength of sepoys has also been increased.

He said that the Gate out in imports is now on real time basis and arrangements are underway in coordination with NLC (National Logistics Corporation) to make all gate in and gate out on both import and export sides on real time basis.

Asif further informed that one more squad has also been activated at Michni which will keep strict vigilance at Michni as this is the first choke point while further strengthening will also be made according to requirements.

All the above steps are taken after a huge corruption scam reported during month of January 2020 where Initially Customs I&I ( Intelligence and Investigation) Peshawar was registered 4 cases under FIR Nos. 57 of 2019, 64 of 2019 and 02 of 2020 regarding import of fresh fruits without filing of (GDs) Goods Declaration and payment of leviable duty and taxes were registered, those vehicles were intercepted upon information which lead  to probe the whole matter and I&I Peshawar started scrutiny of period comprises September, October and November 2019.

After conducted scrutiny the I&I Peshawar lodged further FIR against 197 people with the assistance of data shared by the Pakistan Embassy Kabul and numbers of 197 FIRs were filed against drivers and owners of the vehicles, the staff of MCC Appraisement, MCC Preventive Peshawar, Customs agents and importers for clearing imported goods from Afghanistan without filing of GD and without payment of duty and taxes while after this happened the scope of probe extended to July, August, December 2019 and January 2020.

The sources of I&I Peshawar informed that data of entry passes and Weigh Bridge etc. were obtained from the concerned authorities for the above stated period whereas the recovered data was tallied with each other as well as with manual Entry Passes booklets and Gate/Exit Passes booklets issued by the Customs.

Preliminary investigation was revealed than a astounding number of 355 vehicles had managed to leave the customs premises without paying any duty/taxes and filing of GDs. These vehicles obtained entry passes, presented to NLC Weigh Bridge and then without filing of GD and or getting themselves presented to the customs left the premises against manual gate passes issued to them at the Gate out stage.

These findings were based on detail analysis of all the gate passes, Weigh Bridge slips, entry passes, manual registers and Gate Out data of WeBOC.

It is pertinent to mention here that these vehicles pertain to the months of September, October and November 2019 only and further scrutiny is under way, his malpractice deprived the government exchequer of massive rightful revenue, it added that the Preventive Collectorate Torkham lodged an FIR after the cases were highlighted by media whereas Intelligence was investigating into the matter the sources was informed.

After above case findings the Chief Collector Customs (North) in his report submitted to Member Customs (Operations), FBR, on 10th February 2020 noted, “So far out of 355 vehicles, identified by DG I&I (Customs), Islamabad in its FIR dated 03-02-2020 alleged to have escaped through Customs Station Torkham without filing of GD (Goods Declaration) and payment of duty taxes, around 240 vehicles involving duty/ taxes amounting to Rs130 million have been reconciled.”

The report added, “The exercise for verification of remaining 115 vehicles is under process and shall be completed shortly. Since the reconciliation process is underway, therefore, final count of vehicles, reconciled or otherwise will be given in the final report.”

The Customs Intelligence had charged that 355 vehicles, carrying imported goods, crossed through the Torkham Customs Station without filing the Goods Declaration (GD) and payment of duty and taxes, only during the month of October and November 2019.

Following the DG I&I’s report and without waiting for any inquiry into the matter to ascertain the facts, the prime minister ordered the removal of the then Member Customs (Operation) Jawad Uwais Agha- just a few weeks before his retirement. Besides making Agha OSD, the government also transferred 13 officials of the Customs Group.

The PM was reoffered this case inquiry to the FIA (Federal Investigation Agency) while the FBR (Federal Board of Revenue) has constituted a three member JIT (Joint Investigation Team) for investigation of above mentioned 355 vehicles, this happened after removal of former 02 Collector of MCC Peshawar included newly appointed the Collector MCC Preventive Peshawar, the Collector MCC Peshawar Appraisement and Director I&I Peshawar, this JIT have to report to the board within 14 days, the JIT was formed on 18th of February 2020 which has to submit its final findings during first week of Month of March 2020.  Ends