KARACHI: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has approved an inquiry against Habibullah Khan, alleged owner of the Qasim International Containers Terminal (QICT) and other 65 officials, in country’s biggest Ports and shipping scandal. NAB’s Executive Board meeting was held under the Chairmanship of Justice (r) Javed Iqbal in Islamabad where five inquiries were approved including inquiries against Habibullah Khan of Qasim International Containers Terminal (QICT), M/s United Energy Group Limited, M/s Pakistan Petroleum Limited, M/s Millat Tractors and officers of NTDC. The meeting was attended by Deputy Chairman NAB, Prosecutor General Accountability NAB, DG Operations NAB, DG NAB Rawalpindi and other senior officials. NAB Executive Board sent inquiry against Sultan Gul and others to the FIA for further inquiry as per law and inquiry against officials of Pakistan Agricultural Research Council Islamabad sent to the Establishment Division. NAB Executive Board gave the approval to close the inquiries against Ghulam Rabbani Khar and his daughter former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar. The board gave the approval to close ongoing inquires over corruption charges against Ghulam Rabbani Khar, Hina Rabbani Khar, former chairman NICL, Ayaz Niazi, over lack of evidence. In another case, Collector MCC Port Qasim Mumtaz Ali Khoso under the leadership of Chief Collector Suraiya Ahmad Butt recently lodged an FIR against management of QICT and others involved in an organized illegal removal of the auction cargo from port area by presenting fake and forged documents. NAB Chairman Justice (retired) Javed Iqbal said that reputable national and international institutions have appreciated NAB’s performance. Mr Iqbal stated that the conviction rate in NAB’s corruption cases has been recorded as 70 percent, adding that NAB is working to take mega corruptions cases towards its logical end and using all available resources to recover looted money. “The World Economic Forum’s report has appreciated NAB’s awareness and policy of prevention,” he said, while urging the general public to point out illegal housing societies. He said the NAB made direct and indirect recoveries of Rs 71 billion during last 23 months. It is pertinent to mention that the NAB received a complaint with subject: Building dams by recovering losses of more than Rs 400 billion from officials of port terminals like QICT and shipping lines like Maersk Pakistan Pvt Ltd in terms of looting the nation under the garb of demurrage and detention, non-payment of hundreds of billions of sales tax to Sindh Revenue Board (SRB) and also looting foreign exchange of Pakistan to the tune of millions of dollars annually and further illegalities committed by them. The alleged nexus of some private port terminals like QICT along with its parent company DP World, Port Qasim and shipping line Maersk Pakistan and a few officials of the SRB are making illegal money through malpractice defrauding the SRB of hundreds of billions of rupees by not paying Sales Tax on services offered at the rate of 13%. A foreign shipping company’s agent Maersk Pakistan is reportedly providing shipping and other services in Pakistan to various importers and exporters. Therefore, they are liable to pay service tax to SRB at the rate of 13% as per SRB Notification No. 3-4/20/2017. The Commissioner II of the Sindh Revenue Board was bound by the Notification No. 3-4/20/2017 to collect sales tax on services from the shipping lines as mentioned in point 15 of the table which is also available on the official website of SRB. Furthermore, terminal ports like QICT and shipping line Maersk Pakistan are not allowed to collect any demurrage and detention amounts from the importers when the importers provide “delay and detention certificate” under section 14-A of the Customs Act, 1969. Despite this the port terminal and the shipping line blackmail and harass the importers to collect hundreds of thousands of rupees per single consignment in connivance with the concerned Government officials, Port Qasim Authority (PQA), Karachi Port Trust (KPT), Ministry of Maritime and others. The shipping line Maersk Pakistan and terminal operator QICT are collecting local service charges from Pakistan customers and freely converting such Pakistan rupees to US Dollars and repatriating the same which tantamount to the gross abuse of the foreign exchange laws of Pakistan. This action is draining our nation of our valuable foreign reserves and causing our currency to nose dive, the complaint said. The NAB received another complaint seeking probe to ascertain link of Habibullah Khan with Qasim International Container Terminal (QICT)/DP World in parking billions of rupees black money. In this complaint the NAB was asked to launch probe to ascertain role of 65 employees of QICT/DP World and a shipping company in country’s biggest shipping scandal involving 610 billion rupees. The complaint received by the NAB demanded legal action for recoveries of amounts looted and recovering losses of Rs. 610 billion to the national exchequer per year while also stopping such further losses from the accused persons of these companies including Habibullah Khan, Yuvraj Narayan, Deepak Parekh, Robert Woods, Abdulla Ghobash, Mark Russell, Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, Nadya Abdulla Kamali, Mohammed Al Muallem, Suhail Al Banna, Rizwan Soomar, Rashid Abdulla, Mohammad Al Hashimy, Junaid Zamir and others of DP World/ QICT Ltd. The accused persons of DP World/ QICT Ltd. are facing charges of more than 20 mega scam allegations against them. Now the NAB Executive board under the chairmanship of Justice (r) Javed Iqbal has finally approved inquiry against officials of QICT in country’s biggest ports and shipping scandal involving more than 400 billion rupees. Habibullah Khan QICT’s such alleged scams are reported extensively by Customs Today. After so much coverage by Customs Today about alleged mega scams of QICT with CEO Junaid Zameer including illegally taking scanning fees, demanding extra demurrage and detention charges and misusing green and yellow channels. Junaid Zamir CEO The Collector Port Qasim started actively looking at the alleged mega scams of QICT Pakistan Ltd and lodged the above-mentioned FIR against QICT management for illegally removing goods. He has been performing exceptionally well, refusing to succumb to favours and pressure. It is pertinent to mention here that the NAB issued a notice to Chief Collector Appraisement South Suraiya Ahmed Butt and collectors in an inquiry against officials/officers of Customs Department and others regarding illegal import of around 930 containers of electronics and grey fabrics in the garb of second hand clothing, causing loss to national exchequer. Collector Port Qasim Mumtaz Khoso Chief Collector of Customs Appraisement South Suraiya Ahmed Butt has also been working effectively to curb the green and yellow channels smuggling including the faulty scanners at the Port Qasim terminal. She already had directed all the officials to implement demurrage and detention certificates issued by the department. Sources said that the accused persons are influential people and hence refuse to honour these Delay and Detention certificates issued by the Customs Department and keep collecting illegal demurrage and detention charges. The chief collector Suraiya Butt and the Port Qasim collector Mumtaz Khoso despite having a good track record have failed to curb the illegalities of these influential accused persons and have failed to get their own certificates honoured. This poses a big question on the writ of the state to curb open illegal activities of these influential accused persons and companies. Experts say that Surraiya Butt needs to strictly direct her juniors to keep a check on these companies which are bleeding our economy. Chief Collector Appraisement Suraiya Butt On the other hand, Wasif Ali Memon, Chief Collector of Customs Enforcement, under whose authority the licenses are issued to these shipping companies, must implement demurrage and detention laws or take action against these shipping companies and terminal operators including the accused bigwigs. Wasif Memon is one of the best persons for this post as he fully understands customs laws and working of the shipping lines & terminal operators. He also has good repute in the department due to proper implementation of enforcement and preventive policies. But a few juniors have not yet implemented these policies in letter and spirit that’s why powerful companies like QICT and Maersk Pakistan make their way through favour and pressure to loot our nation while inflicting billions of rupees loss on the exchequer. These companies have deeply penetrated in all departments to misuse laws and harass the citizens of Pakistan. Chief Collector Enforcement Wasif Memon Sources said Maersk shipping line and its subsidiary in Pakistan, M/s Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd are blackmailing importers through illegal holding & blocking of their imported goods for the sake of demanding additional demurrage and detention charges. After importers complaint, Model Customs Collectorate of Preventive, Karachi had issued a notice to M/s Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd as it started the process to cancel license of the company for sheer violation of the Customs Act 1969 and SRO 1220(I)/2015. Customs Today procured copies of the letter issued by Model Customs Collectorate of Preventive while pursuing to cancel license M/s Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd. Assistant Collector Licensing, Hameer Khan in a letter reference No S2/Misc/9/2018-Lic (P) sent to M/s Maersk Pakistan in the subject line as: “100% waiver of demurrage and detention and also cancelation of license of Maersk Pakistan Private Limited under rules 603 (Q), 603 (R), 604 (Q) and 607 (E), others under SRO 1220 (I)/2015 and u/s 14A of the Customs Act, 1969 while placing penalty u/s 156(1) 7A of the Customs Act, 1969”. In a move to cancel the licenses of these companies, importers had written a letter to Chief Collector Enforcement and Collector Customs Preventive to take necessary legal action against Maersk Line and its subsidiary Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd for violating SRO 1220 (I)/2015. Now NAB has started inquiries against QICT and our entire nation is fully confident that NAB Chairman Justice (R) Javed Iqbal while keeping up to his excellent reputation of ‘Accountability for all’ will not succumb to the favours and pressures of the influential while taking these inquiries to the logical end and recovering billions of rupees of looted money from these powerful companies. The NAB Chairman has gained such confidence of the nation by speaking through his actions while recovering more than Rs702 billion through NAB Karachi Bureau alone.