Rs 55bn NATO missing containers scandal

supreme court of pakistanISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday directed National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman to cooperate with Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman to initiate criminal proceedings against those involved in Rs55 billion scam of NATO missing containers.

The court also directed FBR chairman to conduct adjudication against the people involved in the scam whose cases would be referred to NAB. The court ordered him to file a report pertaining to development on meeting with NAB chairman on the issue and performance report in next hearing. The court also asked the Sindh High Court (SHC) to dispose of the cases against the persons involved in this scam immediately.

During the hearing, FBR Chairman Salman Siddique told the two member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry that writs were pending with SHC filed by culprits including importer, clearing agent, terminal/port operator, Customs officials, shipping agents, transporters which caused delay in proceedings against them by the FBR.

The court directed FBR chairman to provide details of pending writs to the SC registrar office. The court was also informed that FBR had unearthed duties and taxes’ evasion of over Rs55 billion as 28,000 containers carrying commercial cargo under Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) went missing on route from Karachi Port to Afghanistan.Besides, rest of the 322,000 containers, dispatched for Afghanistan from Karachi under non-commercial category, meant for International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have not been found yet, which further heavily dented national exchequer.

Counsel for Customs four deputy collectors Syed Shafat Ali said that former President General Pervez Musharraf’s nephew Asad Kausar and former Corps Commander Karachi’s son played major role in the scam. Justice Khiliji Arif remarked that it would be result-oriented act if NAB came forward to help probe the cases.The FBR chairman submitted that the study conducted by FBR in the matter revealed that as against 63,264 commercial ATT containers imported during the period February 1, 2010 to September 20, 2010, the quantum of such imports in the corresponding period of this year has fallen to 33,414 containers, signifying a massive fall by approximately 50 percent. Siddique added that similarly, non-commercial ATT imports have also fallen by 26 per cent to 28,802 containers which were found missing.

The issuance of SCN was actively in progress, he said, adding, the loss of revenue in terms of duties and taxes was around Rs55 billion.However, he said that clearance collectorates had adjudicated 108 cases against 184 containers so far whereas total liability adjudged against them is Rs424 million (duty & taxes) and penalty Rs210 million (Total Rs.634 million).It is worth mentioning that ATT cargo has four categories including commercial consignment, non-commercial imported by Afghan government/NGOs cargo, non-commercial imported by NATO ISAF Forces consignment and non-commercial cargo imported by US Military. – Dailytimes