ISLAMABAD: Customs Intelligence has seized 12780 bottles of Liquor and Beer Cans worth Rs252 million imported in the garb of diplomatic cargo.
According to documents, the directorate general of Intelligence and Investigation Customs received specific information that an attempt will be made to smuggle liquor in the garb of diplomatic cargo ostensibly imported in the name of the Embassy of the State of Palestine.
In pursuance, a consignment being imported under exemption certificate No. 3003 dated 10.10.2022 in the name of Khalil H.A. Ghalyoun, First Secretary Embassy of the State of Palestine vide GD No. KAPE-PP-88748-08-12-2022 said to contain household effects was blocked on 08-12-2022 after the GD was assigned to gate out.
In line with the provisions of article 36 of the Diplomatic and Consular privileges Act, 1972 read with Article 36(2) of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Islamabad was requested vide letter dated 09-12-2022 to approach the Embassy for sending an authorized representative for joint examination.
The MOFA vide letter dated 29-12-2022, requested the Embassy to depute a representative for examination on the scheduled date i.e. 02-01-2023. However, no representative of the Embassy appeared on the date. The MOFA provided the Embassy with the last chance to nominate a representative for examination on 06-01-2023 when again no one from the Embassy joined.
Eventually, MOFA vide letter dated 06-01-2023 informed the Directorate that the Embassy has disowned the consignment and has conveyed that the shipping line wants to re-export the consignment.
The MOFA referred the matter to the Directorate “to take appropriate action as per Government of Pakistan’s laws/rules/policies”. The Directorate conducted scanning of the consignment which revealed the presence of a huge quantity of bottles. Thereafter, the Directorate proceeded with examination of the container.
On opening of the container, a small quantity of assorted plastic chairs and plastic flowers were found stacked in front of the container behind which 17 pallets consisting of 1057 cartons of assorted liquor bottles and beer cans were hidden having approx. value of Rs 252 million (Detailed inventory enclosed as Annex-III).
It is important to note that the sticker of Shipping Line “Ocean World Lines International LLC” dated 11/11/22 with BL No. 152112002238 (corresponding with the BL No as on exemption certificate. 3003 dated 10.10.2022) with destination as “Karachi” was found pasted over transparent wrappings of all the Pallets. This aspect effectively negates the Shipping Line’s reported claim that the container was “misdirected”.
It is abundantly evident from the examination report that the information was correct and a clandestine attempt to smuggle liquor in the garb of diplomatic cargo has been effectively foiled by the Directorate. After examination, the recovered goods were re-stuffed in the container and re-sealed and Musheernama-cum-inventory of the goods prepared on the spot and duly signed by all present.
The goods have been seized under Sec 168 of Customs Act 1969. Accordingly seizure report has been forwarded for adjudication and Criminal proceedings have been initiated.
It is pertinent to mention here that Customs Intelligence in recent days made two big cases worth Rs 635 million including this one. Customs Intelligence Karachi also confiscated Rs 383 million laptops and other goods two days before.