Custom officials allegedly mint millions in fraudulent assessment of vapes e-cigarettes

Islamabad: The custom officials posted at Islamabad Airport have minted millions in an allegedly fraudulent assessment of the Goods Declaration filed for the custom clearance of vapes e-cigarettes

Sources said that the newly created collectorate of customs International Airport Islamabad has issued explanation memos  to four principal appraisers, namely,  Sarfaraz Ahmed, Habibullah Malik, Sana Saeed and Anika Malik for their failure to  classify the assessed goods in the correct and appropriate PCT heading 8543.4000 in which they were required to charge 20 percent customs duty on the assessed goods.

It has been found that while assessing  GD No. 14366 of Ayan Enterprises, GD No 14288 of S.N Enterprises,  GD No 14287 of Ayan Enterprises, GD No 14246 of Ayan Enterprises, GD No. 13855  of ADB Corporation,  GD No 11520 of Deewan and Sons and  GD No 13905 of ABD Corporation, all GDs filed for the custom clearance of vapes e-cigarettes, the named custom  officials avoided to apply the correct and appropriate PCT heading 8543.4000 (CD 20%) and instead assessed the goods fraudulently under the wrong and inapplicable PCT heading 8543.9090 where the goods are exempt from custom duty thus causing a massive loss of custom duty on all the GDs so assessed fraudulently.

The explanation memos served on the officials state that this  inefficiency and negligence on your part has resulted in loss of duty/taxes to the national exchequer worth Rs 6.106 million and your conduct  falls within the definition  of “Inefficiency & misconduct” as defined under civil servants (E&D) rules, 2022.

The explanation memos further state that  you  are hereby directed to explain your position within three days of the receipt of this explanation letter as to why disciplinary action under E&D rules 2020 may not be taken against you.

Sources said that importers collude with the custom officials and take advantage of the loopholes of WeBOC system but customs high ups continue to keep these loopholes open and have almost eliminated the cost of minting money through these loopholes for those custom officials who collude with the importers and cause huge recurring revenue losses to the cash starved economy of Pakistan.  

Recently, two importers have been identified to have misused WeBOC system’s integration with the PTA in clearing without duty and taxes around 5700 mobile phones reported by examining officers as short shipped but assessed by the appraising officers against nominal and negligible duty and taxes in order to present these phones actually cleared fraudulently without leviable duty taxes to PTA for their activation and use.

Although customs collectorate, Islamabad  issued show cause notices to the custom officials involved in this mega phones fraud but the collectorate took precaution to exclude these officials from FIR as initiation of any criminal proceedings against them could risk disclosure of the whole customs hierarchy with whose clandestine support and backing such mega frauds not only occur but also repeat in regular cycles.

There has been so far no direction from FBR high ups to entangle and include  in criminal proceedings all those custom officials who are found to have colluded with importers in custom frauds causing massive and recurring government revenue losses. This no cost for custom officials  for committing custom frauds has made the examiners and appraisers at customs dry ports a regular engine to drive such frauds right under the nose of custom collectors and other supervising custom officers.

Shahzad Paracha
Shahzad Paracha
The writer is a member of Pakistan Today's Islamabad bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]


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