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Customs official Dost shuts his eyes on trillions of rupees smuggling through Karachi port

Customs official Dost shuts his eyes on trillions of rupees smuggling through Karachi port

KARACHI: Karachi East Collectorate R&D Principal Appraiser Dost Muhammad shut his eyes on trillions of rupees smuggling of banned items through the port. Smugglers are working hand in glove with Dost Muhammad to smuggle goods like hazardous chemicals, betel nuts, high value and banned items. They are removing these goods through TP from Karachi East Collectorate, without any checking, with the help of Dost Muhammad, Incharge R&D Department.

Customs Today unearthed the misuse of green channel, yellow channel and now TP facility but FBR and Customs high-ups paid no heed to impartial media coverage against corrupt practices at Karachi ports by its own staff. Banned and restricted items including dangerous chemicals, betel nuts and drugs have been poured into Pakistan through green channel & yellow channel, showing a close connection of these crooked customs elements with smugglers. Now they are removing these goods through TP from Karachi East Collectorate, without any checking.

TP means Transshipment Permit and it is used in smuggling of banned items from the port because TP is not checked at Karachi port. Customs officials put a seal at the door of the container as these goods would be checked at its destination like Lahore where the clearance would take place. Smugglers take the container first to their own warehouse to remove the banned goods and then replace it with iron and steel scrap and close the walls of the container. From their godown they send the container to the Lahore dry port where goods are cleared smoothly as it contains iron and steel scrap as declared at Karachi east collectorate.

R&D department is responsible to keep a check on documents and data of green channel, yellow channel, red channel to avoid any unscrupulous activity through these channels. But Dost Muhammad does nothing to stop any wrongdoing through these channels.

Sources said despite having all the data available to Dost Muhammad where he can easily catch the fraud of TP goods still he knowingly is not catching them rather he is facilitating them.

Sources said with available data, R&D Department can tell that a particular TP is fraud:

  1. Port of loading can be matched with the items. It is known that certain countries export certain items. Like Bulgaria exports copper raw and cable. If an unusual product is shown imported from a port of loading that does not generally export the particular item then that TP consignment can be checked.
  2. To hide the actual port of loading most of the smugglers change the exporting country name to ‘Jabel Ali’. This is called ‘switch B/L’. The goods are coming from a different location but the actual B/L is hidden by the smuggler and a new B/L is made by him and shown on record.

Most of the countries do not allow using their name as port of loading when in switch B/L. Only rare trading countries like ‘Jabel Ali’ allow such a mechanism of switch B/L. Also shipping companies are involved in it. They provide switch B/L facility specifically to only those customers who inform them that the particular item is banned at the port of destination.

If a person wants to bring betel nuts from India, he will inform the shipping company that these betel nuts are banned in Pakistan and hence he wants to have a ‘switch B/L’. The shipping companies generally do not allow ‘switch B/L’ facility but with such request they provide the facility. Now the goods would be declared as ‘iron & steel scrap’ from ‘Jabel Ali’ and will be cleared in green channel or in TP. The B/L will show that it has come from Jabel Ali. Even Jabel Ali authorities do not care and allow using their name as port of loading in the ‘switch B/L’.

But Dost Muhammad at R&D has full data and he can catch this fraud. He also has the container number with him on record. Through this container number he can exactly track from where the container has started to move. He can track the container that it moved from India but the B/L and declaration is showing Jabel Ali.

  1. The weight of container is shown in R&D data from where they can identify whether the goods shown can be true. Iron and steel weight is different from cloth weight.
  2. Some heavy items cannot be transported in 40 feet container. The weight is more of these items while its size is less. These items are transported only in smaller containers like 20 feet containers. When the R&D data shows such list of items coming in 40 feet then they can hold them.

When smugglers get their banned/smuggled items at Karachi East Collectorate then they know that the data is available to Dost Muhammad at R&D division of the collectorate. How is it possible that the smugglers get their billions of rupees worth of goods to the port while they know that Dost Muhammad can catch their green channel and TP goods based on that data? This is not possible unless they are assured by the relevant customs staff like Dost Muhammad to bring the goods without worry and that their goods would not be stopped and their data would be ignored by Dost.

Without internal support of Customs staff the smugglers would never take the risk of billions of rupees worth of their goods. FBR and Customs high-ups must take prompt action to stop these illegal activities at Karachi East Collectorate.

Meanwhile, the business community of South Punjab is seriously aggrieved by non-professional behaviour of Principal Appraiser Dost Muhammad. It was stated by All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran Chairman Khawaja  Suleman Siddiqui while talking to Customs Today on transshipment mega scam.

Khawaja Suleman said that R&D Department is responsible for checking documents and data of consignments cleared through the green channel, yellow channel and TP, but Dost Muhammad did not do anything to stop alleged smuggling through these channels. He said that some corrupt customs officials like Appraiser Dost Muhammad were allegedly operating their parallel smuggling networks for illegal clearance of contraband items like dangerous chemicals and betel nuts.

He said that some corrupt customs officials were serving at key posts and a few high ups of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) have given them ‘free hand’ to carry out corrupt practices. It is unfortunate that hundreds of customs officials are facing inquiries on serious charges of corruption and they are still posted on key posts for managing their smuggling network which is continuously causing huge revenue loss to the national exchequer.

He said that he was disappointed over the posting of corrupt officials in the Customs Department, including appraisers, examiners, assistant collectors, deputy collectors, additional Collector and others. Involvement of customs officials in the smuggling is like financial terrorism in the country, he said, adding that “every kind of smuggling activity is devastating the national economy.”

Khawaja Suleman said that at Karachi Port, the staff was involved in clearance of banned and prohibited items which might cause threat to public safety. Unfortunately, the government has failed to implement any sound policy against corrupt officials like Dost Muhammad in the Customs Department and complaints by several importers and businessmen revealed that the Customs high ups had not taken any action against them.

He said that major manufacturers in Pakistan cannot compete with the kind of prices available in the market for the imported raw material. He said, “We are also responsible for giving bribe to corrupt officers in order to get the legal work done”. He added that the FBR did not take firm action against its corrupt officials even after getting concrete evidences and NAB had also failed to curb corruption in the country.