Isaf container case: over 18,000 issued notices, FBR chief tells Supreme Court

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad ChaudhryOur interest lies in bringing money back to the nation’s kitty,” Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said while resuming hearing of suo motu action regarding International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) container scam on Tuesday.

The CJP remarked: “Tax evasion in ISAF container scam is just the tip of iceberg,” citing Federal Tax Ombudsman’s interview in which the latter claimed that the incidence of tax evasion in the country was alarming high.A three-member bench of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry directed Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) to devise a strategy for the recovery of money and prosecution of those involved in the scam.

It is worth mentioning that the SC was informed during the last hearing that the FBR had unearthed duties and taxes’ evasion of over Rs 55 billion as 28,802 containers carrying ISAF commercial cargo under Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) from Karachi port to Afghanistan went missing.Resultantly, the Chief Justice asked FBR Chairman to file a report pertaining to the development of his meeting with the NAB Chairman on ISAF containers scam, along with a performance report on the next date of hearing.Counsel for FBR Raja M.Irshad, NLC’s counsel Afnan Karim Khundi, Attorney General for Pakistan, Chairman FBR and Additional Prosecutor General NAB Akbar Tarar appeared before the bench.

During the course of hearing, Chairman FBR apprised the bench that proceedings against those involved in the scam had been initiated.According to him, as many as 18,010 persons have been issued show cause notices so far.Additional Prosecutor General NAB informed the bench that a day earlier NAB was contacted by the FBR.According to him, the NAB is overburden due to several vacant posts.The CJP asked the Chairman FBR to depute an officer from his office for providing assistance to NAB in investigating the matter of tax evasion in ISAF container scam, adding that a forensic inquiry into the scam must be carried out.

He asked the Chairman FBR to oversee the cases on daily basis.The counsel for FBR informed the bench that show cause notices to importers, clearing agents, border agents and the National Logistics Cell had been issued in most of the cases and the remaining, pertaining to 3398 Nato/ISAF containers were being issued now.He added that FIRs were also being lodged for determining criminal liability of culprits and so far a list of about 580 containers had been forwarded to the Directorate General of Intelligence and Investigation – FBR for lodging FIRs against the culprits including customs official.According to him, more cases are being analysed for fixing responsibility. – Brecorder