Thursday, 20 January 2011

37 Billion Rupees lost in ISAF containers pilferage

Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhary on Wednesday hearing the embezzlement of billions of rupees in International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) containers case observed that revelations made in the Federal Tax Ombudsman report is just the tip of the iceberg, as further investigations could divulge much more. The Federal Tax Ombudsman submitted a comprehensive report regarding fraud in the garb of Afghan Transit Trade, which testified that large number of containers carrying Afghan trade goods have been pilfered inside the country. The report has made a startling disclosure that more than 50,000 transit containers have been pilfered within Pakistan that have caused a huge loss of approximately Rs19 to Rs37 billing to the country’s economy during the last four years. A three-member bench of apex court comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhary, Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday, while hearing the ISAF containers case ordered the authorities concerned to take a strict action against those involved in the case and issued them notices.

Supreme Court of Pakistan

The Court on September 30, 2010 had directed the Federal Tax Ombudsman to file a comprehensive report over the permission of contraband items under the garb of food supplies to the ISAF in Afghanistan under the Afghan Transit Trade Agreement (ATTA). The court also sought a comprehensive report over 10,000 to 11,000 containers of ISAF which went missing from Karachi, as Customs has no record of these containers. The Chief Justice said, “We have gone through the report, which is not only comprehensive to the point with the reference mentioned in the complaint of smuggling of foreign goods in the name of Afghan Transit Trade”. The report prima facie concluded that action is required to be taken against all the concerned officials of Customs. The court stated that for the sake of justice it would be appropriate to provide them an opportunity of hearing so they may also forward their comments in view of the report prepared by Federal Tax Ombudsman.

The court directed Chairman Federal Board of Revenue Salman Siddique to assist the court and provide a list of all officials, including former chairperson of CBR/FBR, who was holding the position from January 1, 2007 to December 24, 2010, the Members of Customs (Customs Collectors Karachi Port and Port of Qasim, Collectors of Quetta and Peshawar, Secretaries Commerce and Finance, Director General Customs Intelligence and Investigation and the relevant officers of NLC who were hold the charge during that period. The court said that the Chairman CBR might also identify any other officer, prima facie involved in the alleged corruption, so he may be summoned.

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