KARACHI: A few customs officials at Port Qasim have been providing ‘hidden support’ to smugglers to blindly misuse the facility of green channel at Port Qasim for fulfilling their vested interests. They are allowing unchecked clearance of banned and non-certified goods worth billions of rupees through green channel by declaring as scrap, allege sources.
Sources say Customs Preventive raided different godowns and seized 6 containers of betel nuts cleared under HS Code 7204.4100 through green channel. Suspects namely Muhammad Shoaib Arshad, owner of M/s City Steel UAE Mills (Private) Limited, Muhammad Arshad, owner of M/s A.F Enterprises, Muhammad Tariq, Sohrab Khan, Amjad Khan and others booked in a betel nuts smuggling case which they had imported in the garb of waste and cast iron scrap.
According to the FIR No ASO-58/2018 lodged on 21 February, an ASO team found two containers near Shan Chowrangi, Korani Road, Karachi, which were stopped. The drivers presented the documents of 14 containers, including these two containers, which were cleared from MCC Port Qasim. During the search, the customs officials recovered 80,025 kilogram betel nuts worth Rs 200 million.
Sources claim it was established beyond doubt that the suspects were involved in smuggling of the contraband betel nuts under the garb of waste and scrap of iron. They got the betel nuts cleared under HS Code 7204.4100. Hence they have, individually and collectively, violated the customs laws.
Sources say a few Customs officials at Port Qasim involved in clearance of restricted goods through green channel started separate investigation of the issue and lodged another FIR no SI/MISC/03/2018/PQ-CIU on 21 Feb in the case to save the skin of the customs officials involved especially ADC Yasin Murtaza. As per FIR, Customs team raided a godown belonging to Imran Ameen where containers of betel nuts were off-loaded but during the raid, they could not find anything there.
Sources say FIR of Port Qasim lodged on the same smuggled goods that Preventive had already caught and registered FIR. The 6 containers containing GD number KPPI- HC – 62268 is same as already caught by Preventive.
Sources say this second FIR for the same instance at the behest of ADC Yasin Murtaza of Port Qasim is an attempt to weaken the first FIR of preventive and an open attempt to keep the accused away from Preventive so that the accused do not give away the names of gang of green channel. This second FIR is an attempt by Port Qasim to jump into the investigations of the case and tamper evidences and influence witnesses.
Sources allege a very weak second FIR is lodged by Port Qasim to save their accomplices from Customs preventive. This FIR says that driver was contacted for information which led to another godown (and not the same godown which was raided by Preventive). The owner of godown was different. It says that not a single container was there but only small pieces of betel nuts. This weakened the FIR due to weak evidences.
Source say as second FIR could replace rather contradicting first FIR of preventive which was a very strong FIR with red handed seizure of 6 containers on spot. Now the accused will be taken in custody by Port Qasim itself instead of Preventive and can be released on bail.
Sources claim the main culprits i.e. customs staff have become the investigators of the case. They say in FIR that they lodged FIR on 21st Feb. while they say that the occurrence was of 22nd Feb. They are caught red handed with their manipulation. How can an FIR be lodged even before the occurrence has taken place? It is like lodging of a dacoity FIR even one day before the dacoity occurrence. Such FIR is possible only by the person who is himself the dacoit and has information even before the dacoity takes place.
Sources claim, in fact, Port Qasim FIR hides the name of the main accused person. Whereas it is basic criteria in any FIR under law that ‘name’ of accused should be given. Earlier Preventive FIR gave a name of the owner as ‘Mr. Mohammad Shoib Arshad’. But later FIR of Port Qasim for the same occurrence drops the name of the person and gives only a designation of person as ‘Proprietor’. This designation is also fake as this is shown as Pvt. Ltd. company and in any Pvt. Ltd. company there can never be a designation of ‘Proprietor’.
Sources allege, obviously, this is a way used by Customs Port Qasim to protect the main accused who is the beneficiary of the green channel facility. Such people are apparently actual partners of these corrupt officials like ADC Yasin Murtaza and hence so much of play is on record to save the main culprits.
Sources claim the website (http://citysteeluae.com) of this green channel company, which is caught involved in smuggling, indicates that it is not a well established professional company. It does not even have a proper website which is supposed to be face of a professional company. It is beyond imagination how such a company got registered in green channel.
Sources reveal, in the FIR of Port Qasim against this company, it states that proprietor of this company is absconder. FIR was lodged in urgency and date of FIR was given even before the date of occurrence. This means Port Qasim has created an excuse at the time of lodging of FIR itself that they will not arrest this main accused of green channel listed company because he is already an absconder! If the court asks them why the main accused is not arrested then they will say that he was already an absconder even before lodging of the FIR and hence an excuse created from the time of lodging of FIR itself.
Source say when a person who is already an absconder even before lodging of the FIR then how did he get registered with green channel? It is obvious that only those companies could be registered with green channel which are established organisations and when any issue in goods is identified then those should be traceable and answerable. Now the green channel listed company owner has vanished in thin air being an absconder even from before the FIR is lodged!!
Following is a letter sent by a genuine importer to collector of Customs, Port Qasim Mr. Chaudhry Javed. This is very relevant and interesting.
Importer said, “ADC Yasin Murtaza is still carrying out his illegal activities blatantly despite our reminders to you. For his personal motives agenda vendetta he is harassing genuine importers like us.” GD NO. KPPI-HC 62811-19-02-2018
He said, “It is an established law that weight of essential packing should be given as tare weight and not counted in value of product.” Refer to letters of DG customs Valuation and also of Muhammad Zahid, Present member, Customs as given below. The letters also give references of high court judgments on the same lines.
He said, “It is categorically mentioned in these documents the weight of essential packing should be given as tare weight and not added in value of the product despite this settled law, ADC Yasin Murtaza is pressuring his juniors not to give essential packing weight as tare weight. He has clearly mentioned that unless we do not fulfill his personal demands and give him personal favours, he will not give us this basic right under the law. He has even conveyed to us to go to the Supreme Court and get the orders of the honorable court implemented but he will not implement them.”
“He (ADC) knows that going to the honorable Supreme Court will involve time and we cannot keep goods at the port for such a long time because the goods get spoiled and stolen when they are kept at Port Qasim for a span of few days. The customs staff spoils and steals goods at Port Qasim when any genuine importer keeps the goods at the port and goes for legal remedies to the courts,” he added.
“Over and above other personal favours that he (ADC) is asking from us, he is also asking us to give a false declaration under duress that he is not involved in green channel smuggling and that no such smuggling is happening at Port Qasim. He wants to put genuine importers like us under pressure to give such false declarations so as to defeat the process of law,” he added.
The Importer elaborated, “The complaint/ information was shared basically by genuine importers with media and senior officials on 13th Feb 2018. Based on this information, media investigations started into this mega scam of ADC Yasin Murtaza in green channel smuggling which is causing losses of billions of rupees to national exchequer. Also this green channel smuggling by ADC Yasin Murtaza is causing losses to the genuine importers. Such genuine importers are not able to sell their goods in Pakistan markets after paying duties and taxes because their prices are higher. While the green channel smugglers who are associates of ADC Yasin Murtaza are able to sell their goods and capture local markets as their goods are lower priced because they do not pay any duties and taxes to the government exchequer rather apparently only pay a share of profits to ADC Yasin Murtaza and his gang of smugglers.”
The importer said, “One of the illegal motives of ADC Yasin Murtaza in not granting the genuine importers their basic rights is that he wants the casting of genuinely imported products to go higher so that they cannot be sold in local markets. This will give advantage to his associate green channel smugglers to sell their smuggled goods and capture the local markets.” Urgent actions required to save our souls, he concluded.
Legal importers have demanded that NAB and FIA take up such green channel smuggling cases of ADC Yasin Murtaza, Port Qasim so that such customs officials who are the true protectors and beneficiaries are caught once and for all.