Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Tuesday referring the missing International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) containers issue to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) directed to initiate criminal proceedings against persons involved in the scam.
Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Salman Siddique was asked to convene a meeting with the NAB chairman. The court also directed Salman to conduct adjudication against the involved people in the scam whose cases would be referred to NAB if they were on fault.
The FBR Chairman told the bench that writs were pending in Karachi High Court, 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.
A two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Justice Arif Khiliji resumed hearing of the suo motu case regarding the ISAF container scam. The court said it would be the test case for NAB after the appointment of Fasih Bukhari as the chairman of the Bureau.
The FBR chairman informed that the board has unearthed duties and taxes' evasion of over Rs55 billion as 28,000 containers carrying commercial cargo under the 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 the non-commercial category, meant for ISAF have not been found yet, further heavily denting national exchequer.
It was alleged before the bench that former President General Pervez Musharraf's nephew and former Corp Commander Karachi's son had played a major role in the scam.
The Chief Justice directed the Chairman FBR to provide details of the writs pending before Karachi High Court in which he said recommendation to expedite hearing would be sent to the KHC.
Justice Khiliji Arif revealed that it would be a result-oriented act if NAB comes forward to help probe the cases, adding that no pressure would be faced by FBR as well.
Siddique while giving details of the missed containers said that the trend of steep fall in import of Transit Trade cargo continued in ensuing months. He submitted that conducted study of FBR revealed in the matter 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 per cent.
Salman added that similarly, non-commercial ATT imports have also fallen by 26 per cent to 28,802 containers which were found missing. He told that issuance of SCN was actively in progress, adding that the loss of revenue in terms of duties and taxes was around Rs55 billion.
However, he said that clearance collectorates have 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.
The Chief Justice asked Chairman FBR to file a report pertaining to development on meeting with Chairman NAB relating to issue and performance report in next hearing.
The hearing was adjourned for three weeks.
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