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Customs seizes smuggled liquor worth $50,000 at Islamabad Dry Port

Customs seizes smuggled liquor worth $50,000 at Islamabad Dry Port

ISLAMABAD: The Customs Intelligence seized foreign-origin alcohol worth $50,000 being smuggled into the country through Islamabad dry port.

Sources said a diplomatic bonded warehouse – namely Diplomats Duty Free Private Limited (DDF) – tried to smuggle into the country a huge quantity of liquor through Islamabad dry port. The liquors – having market value of Rs2.5 crores in local currency – were packed in a 20-foot container.

The attempt was allegedly being made in connivance with some foreigners by misusing authorisation given by the Ministry of Commerce to diplomats and privileged persons working on the foreign-funded projects in Pakistan.

It was not the first instance when a massive under-invoicing had been done to render the national exchequer the losses in billions of rupees.

Organised rackets are allegedly involved in the business of liquor and other foreign consumer goods by misusing the exemption and authorisation given by the Foreign Office and the Commerce Ministry.

This misuse partly stems from an anomaly in the procedures governing the import of liquor by the government, it was learnt.

The government allows diplomats to import a fixed quantity of liquor – determined by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – without paying duty.

Likewise, the privileged non-Muslims with a contract of two years working with international nongovernment organisations like Asian Development Bank, the United Nations, etc. are permitted to import liquor worth $200 per month. FBR provides them with a booklet in this regard, said the sources.

Foreign alcohols are said to be brought into the country over and above the permitted quantity through under-invoicing and later supplied to the bootleggers across the country at inflated prices.

In the latest case, a first information report (FIR) has been lodged against the senior management of the warehouse – jointly run by private Spanish and Pakistani management – for violating the provisions of the law. Sources said that the quantity was 10 times over and above the assigned quota.

The officials said the Customs Intelligence is also probing into the similar kind of imports by other bonded warehouses that earlier cleared the liquor.

The misuse of the authorisation for the import of other commercial goods is also being probed. Raids are currently underway to apprehend the culprits involved in the scam.

According to the FIR, the DDF filed goods declaration dated 10 October, 2013 at the Islamabad dry port for the clearance of 7,200 bottles of various kinds of liquor with a total value of $6,550 – which means less than one dollar price for each bottle even after including freight charges and insurance.

After analyzing the previous records the government found the odd fluctuation in the valuation of the imported consignment.

For example, the price of Whyte and Mackey blended whisky was shown as $1 this time as against $5.5 previously.

Similarly, the value of premium Whisky Canadian Club was declared as $1 per bottle as compared with $9.26 earlier.

Previously, the value of a French Vodka Jelzin was declared as $13.27 as against ridiculously Rs67 this time.