Customs Today wins ‘fight’ against green channel smuggling
ISLAMABAD: Customs Today succeeded to prove its reports regarding green channel smuggling as Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar took notice of the issue and Directorate General Customs Intelligence & Investigation (I&I) admitted that green channel facility has been mercilessly abused by some syndicates in connivance with a few corrupt customs officers.
Director General Customs I&I Shaukat Ali gave full weight to the complaint to the extent that the green channel facility at the ports has been “excessively misused” and recommended urgent action to arrest haemorrhage of state revenue. This complaint was submitted by senior investigative journalist Asad Kharal to Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and repeatedly published in Customs Today newspaper against green channel illegal clearances worth Rs 1000 billion.
In a report submitted to FBR Chairman Tariq Mahmood Pasha after Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar took notice of the complaint of large-scale misuse of green channel facility and ordered the FBR Chairman, Member Customs and DG I&I to submit reply within 10 days, the Directorate General Customs Intelligence put up total blame on the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the Customs Department while confirming ‘merciless’ misuse of green channel facility with support of a few customs officials.
After CJP’s notice, FBR advised Directorate General Customs Intelligence to submit its report. As per report, Directorate General Customs Intelligence & Investigation (I&I) placed on record that Green Channel facility has been callously abused by some syndicates of unscrupulous fraudsters and the possibility of connivance of few customs officers cannot be ruled out. The above comment emanates from the Directorate General’s experience of detection of Green Channel related cases and adverse reaction of some officers/officials in Customs hierarchy.
The Directorate General also mentioned in the report that strong recommendations of placing under suspension some Customs officers/officials suspected to be involved in facilitating the misuse of Green Channel facility repeatedly made by the Directorate General have been ignored by FBR. Thus, the manipulators inside the department do not feel discouraged enough to refrain from extending their helping hand to the fraudsters.
In addition to the above, whenever the Directorate General detected cases of misuse of Green Channel in the recent past, collectorates particularly MCC East Karachi, MCC West Karachi, MCC Port Qasim and MCC Appraisement Lahore have reacted sharply against the action taken by the Directorate General of Customs Intelligence & investigation and attempted to protect the fraudsters.
Directorate General Customs Intelligence & Investigation notes that non-action on part of FBR and adverse reaction of collectorates practically placed hurdles in the way of the Directorate General Customs Intelligence & Investigation to effectively check the misuse of the green channel facility at ports.
As per details, Customs Today extensively covered and reported since past few years the misuse of green channel facility and published repeatedly an appeal of senior investigative journalist Asad Kharal to the Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and the NAB chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal to take notice of Rs 1000 billion green channel illegal clearances. The Chief Justice took notice of the complaint, as Asad Kharal appeared before the court and submitted the complaint regarding green channel smuggling, and ordered the FBR Chairman Tariq Mahmood Pasha, Member Customs Zahid Khokhar and DG Intelligence Shaukat Ali to submit reply within 10 days. The court associate also sent the notice copy to the Chairman NAB for notice and necessary action.
Following is the complaint submitted to the CJP:
As per application and accompanied appeal filed by Asad Kharal, Chairman Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) Pakistan, a mega scam of green channel smuggling is unearthed at ports of Pakistan:
- Customs Department admits that 46% of clearances happen in green channel where the smugglers are ensured that their goods would not be checked by customs officers at ports.
- Green channel facility is provided exclusively to rich people who have big turnovers so that they can cause bigger revenue losses to the national exchequer and corrupt customs officers can make even bigger money out of it.
- High value goods like mobiles, banned items and health hazardous goods like betel nuts, narcotics substances, cigarettes, liquor and explosives are cleared by a few corrupt customs staff without any checking or examination.
- Millions of Pakistanis are losing health and lives due to smuggling of banned items through green channel
- More than Rs 1000 billion losses incurred due to the green channel mega scam but the customs authorities are not ready to take any action or correct its ways because senior customs officers are huge beneficiaries of the entire scam.
Appeal repeatedly published in Customs Today against green channel:
Coverage of green channel issue by Customs Today:
It is important to mention here that Customs Today has been reporting on abuse of green channel since past many years and DG Intelligence report regarding misuse of green channel facility has confirmed this fact. Customs Today also unearthed mega brands like Mobilink and QMobile which were reported to be grossly abusing Green Channel facility with connivance of Customs staff. Customs Today exposed mega smuggling scam of Digicom Company (Q-Mobile) as the company cleared more than 750 containers through green channel.
On 2nd February 2018, Customs Today exposed a smuggling bid of 15,520 liters of dual use precursor acetic anhydride worth around $1.5 million at Port Qasim. The acetic anhydride is a main ingredient for preparing narcotics substance as well as making highly dangerous explosives by the terrorist outfits. Then, Customs Today published several reports about betel nuts smuggling worth billions of rupees through ports at Port Qasim and Appraisement East Collectorate.
Customs Today reported on Feb 28 that an Additional Collector at Port Qasim, under a plan, used to keep entire staff busy with futile re-examinations and re-assessments of genuine importers so that his accomplices from the green channel smugglers get a good chance to smuggle goods without examination in green channel. This kind of practice gave rise to huge smuggling through green channel.
Chambers raise voices against green channel abuse:
Customs Today extensively covered the issue of misuse of green channel facility and involvement of corrupt Customs officials of Port Qasim and Appraisement East Collectorate.
Different chambers of commerce, associations and tax bars also raised the issue of green channel smuggling and compelled the FBR to take action against corrupt officials. Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) President Shiekh Amir Waheed has said that these corrupt officials are the real enemy of the country because they are involved in causing huge loss in shape of revenue to national exchequer. He demanded serious action against such black sheep in the customs department.
While talking to Customs Today, ICCI President Amir further said, “Our country faces leakage in the revenue collection, but black sheep in the customs department are collecting parallel revenue by such bribe and clearance of contraband goods and unfortunately this parallel revenue are more higher that our revenue collected by the department.”
President Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ghazanfer Bilour while talking to Customs Today said Customs Appraisement East R&D Section has crossed every limit to hamper efficiency of customs department through clearance of contraband goods and Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry will take up mega green channel smuggling issue with the higher authorities of customs department.
Vice President Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) Syeda Masooma Sibtain and member of Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry said Pakistan Customs should modify its clearance procedure under green channel facility to prevent its misuse in the country after revealing recent scams on Port Qasim. It is very unfortunate that a few customs officials are involved in unscrupulous activities at Port Qasim and they are allowing smugglers to throw their smuggled goods in the markets after getting clearance through green channel.
President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Mufassir Atta Malik, has said that it is true that majority of importers are facing difficulties in clearance of their consignments due to unnecessary hurdles created by corrupt customs officials.
Answering to a question, he said: “We are going to make a complaint to customs higher authorities about these corrupt officials.” He further said due to such corrupt officials a question has been marked on the reputation of customs department.
Senior Vice President, Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) Mohammad Nasir Mirza while talking to Customs Today said Pakistan is facing revenue shortfall, while network of corrupt officials is playing in the hands of smugglers, causing billions of rupees loss to the exchequer, and criminal silence of higher authorities of Customs department and FBR is suspicious. A timely and result-oriented action shall be taken to halt further loss to revenue and break the network of corrupt officials.
Attack on Asad Kharal after green channel complaint:
Soon after submission of a complaint against Rs 1000 billion green channel illegal clearances to the CJP and the NAB, Asad Kharal was attacked and assaulted in Lahore on 6th June and he remained under treatment at the Services Hospital and CMH. He received serious injuries to his neck, arm and other parts of the body. The senior journalist was on his way home from the airport when his vehicle was intercepted. He was taken out from the car and assaulted.
In his FIR, he had neither enmity with anybody nor it was an incident of robbery. “They wanted to frighten me. They attacked me because I had sensitive information about corruption cases of Rs500-1000 billion per case in my USB and phones. I wanted to present them to the Supreme Court and the NAB.”
Notice of green channel smuggling by the Chief Justice:
These reports led to multiple raids, tens of FIRs and recoveries of illegally cleared goods worth billions of rupees. In fact, in a single raid at a SITE area godown, 600,000 Kgs. of betel nuts worth Rs 1.5 billion were seized. Notwithstanding, these actions were only as token in nature and is a drop in the ocean whereas much more needs to be done. Customs Today also published investigative reports about changing of strategies by green channel smugglers as they started clearing illegal goods through yellow channel & TP.
At last, Chief Justice Mian Saqib took notice of the issue and this step could help eradicate corruption mafia from the country especially in Customs Department as green channel smuggling is inflicting heavy losses on the national exchequer. The chief justice and the NAB chairman have also took suo moto notices of mega corruption cases in Pakistan and even Nawaz Sharif was disqualified as prime minister in a historic decision announced in the Panama Papers case.
Genuine importers once again appealed to the Chief Justice and Chairman NAB to take strict action against ‘corrupt mafia’ of Customs Dept and green channel smugglers for the sake of national economy.