PESHAWAR: Directorate of Customs Intelligence and Investigation (I&I) Additional Director Faysal Bokhari has said that after assuming charge of the Directorate, he used information technology to curb tax evasion and smuggling.
During this period from October 2019 till date, the Directorate made enormous cases of multiple smuggled goods along with NDP vehicles and narcotics worth Rs 1 billion and surpassed allocated targets.
Talking with Customs Today during an exclusive interview, Faysal Bokhari said that the practice of clearing more vehicles on one GD (goods declaration) must be discouraged because it is a violation of Section 44 of the Customs Act. He added that under direction of Director I&I (Intelligence and Investigation) Peshawar Rashid Habib Khan, we used exceptional methods to unfold white color crimes worth billions of rupees. The Directorate of Customs I&I Peshawar unearthed tax evaders theft through WeBOC (web based one customs), adding that for last 3 to 4 weeks, his team used to work 24/7 for stopping leakages to safe national exchequer.
Answering a query regarding Torkham corruption scandal, he said that this Directorate was receiving information regarding weak procedures, absence of administrative controls and infrastructure, poor record keeping and reconciliations and by-passing of the mandatory steps in the WeBOC system at Customs Station Torkham whereas certain elements were reported to be taking advantage of these shortcomings by either mis-declaring the goods or more alarmingly moving the goods out of the Customs area without payment of duties and taxes by avoiding filing of GD.
Providing detail of cases made out on ground by this Directorate pertaining to the phenomenon of non-payment of duty/taxes and without filing of the GD, the Additional Director said that a vehicle number KBL-3813 was intercepted which was coming from Customs Station Torkham and upon demand the driver produced a GD No. TLCS-HC-18146 dated 19.11.2019. Upon scrutiny, it was found that the produced GD was fake because the GD No. TLCS-HC-18146 actually filed in system contained grapes and not pomegranates whereas also the vehicle number in the subject GD was different. The driver also produced a Customs Area Import Entry Passes for the subject vehicle which was also found to be fake, accordingly, the subject vehicle was seized and FIR lodged, It is important to note here that the subject vehicle was issued an entry Pass and was presented to NLC (National Logistic Cell) weigh bridge meaning thereby that the vehicle entered the custom premises, while according to the driver of the vehicle, he was given a GD and gate pass by a private person in the import terminal against which he moved his vehicle without GD filing, this aspect was confirmed by CCTV footage procured from NLC authorities at Torkham.
Additional Director further told that again on 22.12.2019 upon information a vehicle number KBL-1273 laden with foreign origin apples coming from Customs Station Torkham was stopped while the driver of the vehicle failed to produce any kind of Import and associated documents and the subject vehicle had left the station without payment of duty and taxes accordingly, the vehicle was seized and FIR was lodged in the matter.
In a similar incidence on 15.01.2020, the Field Intelligence Unit, (FIU) Mardan intercepted a vehicle number KBL-3646, the driver of vehicle produced a GD No. TLCS-HC-20954 dated 14.01.2020. Upon checking in the WeBOC system, the said GD was found to be of Bituminous Coal instead of apples hence, the subject vehicle was seized and FIR lodged.
The Additional Director I&I further informed that another case of the same phenomena was effected again on 20.01.2020, when three Toyota Pickups laden with Apples bearing Registration Nos. BC-4339-Peshawar, C-4472-Swat and HZ-4229-Hafeezabad coming from Custom Station Torkham were stopped where again a fake GD for the loaded vehicles was presented and accordingly the goods and vehicle were seized.
All the above mentioned cases were the starting point of the further finding of vehicles and goods passing through gate out of import yard without paying duty taxes which is still going on, telling the details of another interesting foreign origin onion case which was seized in month of December 2019, he said that the Directorate was received a credible information that some perishable items especially onion cleared at Torkham Customs station without regular process flow of WeBOC system, in the regular process flow the manual Gte pass to the gate out vehicles at Torkham is issued only after the vehicle’s clearance process is completed in the WeBOC and after the GD is assigned to gate out in the system but the information indicated that the vehicle carrying onions are allotted the gate passes well before they are gate out in the WeBOC, he added that in order to ascertain the said phenomena two GDs number 19573 and 19543 both dated 9th December 2019 were blocked at gate out stage in the system by this Directorate on 10th December 2019 accordingly a team was dispatched to Torkham for examination of the vehicles contained in the blocked GDs but surprisingly it was transpired to the team that subject vehicles had already been gate out manually the previously day i.e.9-12-2019 despite the fact that GD was yet to be cleared, it is practice in all the Customs stations that more than one vehicle are declared and clear on one GD which is a gross violation of Section 44 of the Customs Act.
Answering to query about Sales Tax evasion cases Faysal Bokhari said while providing an example that on 8th January 2020 an information to the effect that sales tax registration No. of M/S Flaming Gems Pakistan Pvt Ltd Rawalpindi has been suspended by the RTO Authorities Islamabad however M/S Shahzad Enterprises Customs Clearing Agency Peshawar filed GD No TLCS-HC-20793 dated 8-1-2020 on behalf of importer for clearance of a consignment of Afghan origin fresh apple at Torkham, he added that according to the rules 12A of sales tax 2008 a non-active tax payer shall not be entitled to file goods declaration for import or export but the said importer while his sales tax registration was inactive was still filing the GD.
He said that by pursuing the above information the said GD was blocked at gate out stage while during examination it was found that consignment consists 4800 plastic crates weighting 47811 kgs as the sales tax registration of said importer was suspended therefore he was not entitled to import the consignment in question as well as claim exemption of sales tax under sixth schedule to the sales tax Act 1990 whereas goods along with vehicle was seized.
He said that the sales tax registration of the importer was suspended on 19-12-2019 by the sales tax authorities and from that date till the subject case was made on 08-01-2020 a total of 34 consignments of the importer have been entertained and allowed by the Customs station Torkham without having jurisdiction to do so, he added that I&I Peshawar has been framed contraventions against 34 consignments cleared in illegal way.
Answering another query that how many goods and vehicles seized after assuming his charge at I&I Peshawar he said that if we make a comparison between identical period of October 2018 to February 2019 and October 2019 to February 2020 it showed that Directorate seized Rs.1000.9 million of smuggled goods, NDP along with offending vehicles and narcotics during Oct to Feb 2019-20 while it seized identical items during same correspondence period in worth of Rs.639.1 million, he added that said performance showed that Directorate made huge crackdown against smugglers and tax evaders whereas this crackdown will be continue under supervision of Director General I&I Zahid Kokhar and Director I&I Peshawar for safety of the national wealth and implementation of flawless clearing system, in his concluding remarks Additional Director Faysal Bokhari said that Directorate of Customs Intelligence Peshawar confidently stand on fact findings against tax evaders and smugglers relating with Customs station Torkham.