The Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) has unearthed an illegal scheme being run by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for the last 15 years, amounting to the promotion of illegal import of stolen vehicles and facilitating international criminal activities.
Moreover, the FTO has directed the FBR to immediately stop the illegal practice of customs clearance of stolen imported cars under transfer of residence, baggage scheme or gift scheme after payment of a 30 percent redemption fine.
According to the order issued by the FTO on Tuesday, the FBR’s past decision was promoting the illegal import of stolen vehicles and facilitating international criminal activities.
The FTO order said that this is an own-motion investigation of systemic maladministration initiated under the FTO Ordinance, 2000. The investigation is against the Collectors of Customs Conference held at the FBR office in 2006 regarding clearance of stolen imported cars under transfer of residence, baggage scheme or gift scheme.
It was decided that Collectorates may clear such vehicles after imposition of 30 percent redemption fine under the relevant provisions of the Customs Act, 1969, while no action was to be taken in respect of the alleged stolen vehicles unless a recognized agency or a foreign country approached the government in this regard.
Without any legal provision, to clear stolen vehicles at an import stage after imposition of 30 percent redemption fine and not initiating any investigation/action, as per law, amounts to promote the illegal import of stolen vehicles and facilitation of international criminal activities.
Customs authorities’ decision about clearance of stolen imported cars under transfer of residence, baggage scheme or gift scheme upon payment of redemption fine and taxes without following any legal provision has been declared illegal by the FTO. In this connection, the FTO issued notices to the FBR.
The FBR submitted a report that Customs collectorates in Sialkot and Peshawar had cleared six and three such stolen imported vehicles in 2007 and 2013-2014 respectively.
The FTO also recommended the FBR to direct all Collectorates of Customs and other concerned authorities to stop these illegal practices forthwith.
The Customs authorities were also directed that the stolen imported vehicles either should have been returned to authorities of the country from where vehicles were stolen after receiving occurring expenses, or these vehicles should have been confiscated and disposed off through public auctions.
The committee also recommended the FBR to direct the MCC Sialkot to seize identified six vehicles and take appropriate legal action against importers involved in such illegal businesses.
The FTO ordered a report from the competent authorities to be submitted within 45 days.
Earlier, the FTO took the own-motion in connection to the decision taken in Customs Conference held at the then CBR (FBR) on 02.08.2006, in which it was decided that the Collectorates may clear stolen imported vehicles after imposition of 30 percent redemption fine under the Provision of Customs Act, 1969, while no action should be taken unless a recognised agency of the foreign country approaches the government of Pakistan.