FIA probing alleged corruption in Customs

The Nation

LAHORE – FIA has started inquiry into alleged corruption scam worth millions of rupees in Customs Intelligence.
Customs authorities have been trying to hush-up the issue but a former sepoy of the department drew the attention of FIA towards the matter. It also reflects from the official response of the Customs Intelligence to FIA investigators when they demanded record of the case but formers were reluctant to provide the same. Ultimately on interruption of the Lahore High Court, when it asked FIA to finalize the inquiry expeditiously, Customs authorities provided record to the agency.
There were 80 cases of embezzlement in which Customs Intelligence staff sold the precious goods to a private person and showed it in record a deal with Canteen Store Department (CSD) of armed forces. On counter check, the CSD management refused to accept any such purchase.
Customs Intelligence authorities registered a case against an intelligence officer Hameed for selling a single consignment to Zafar (a private person) and that consignment is worth more than Rs15 million. “There are about 79 such cases wherein 79 times consignments were sold to private persons in the name of CSD and nobody took notice of the irregularities,” said a customs officer while talking to this scribe.
Embezzlement started from the year 2011 and continued till 2018 but no officer bothered to check the working of Inspector Hameed who was posted as store keeper for such a long period. Normally a person posted against any office is supposed to be transferred after three years but with whose backing Hameed remained posted on his seat for such a long time. This question is yet to be answered, said an officer posted at Customs Intelligence on condition of anonymity. When Customs Intelligence realised that the issue had been taken up by FIA, it immediately took action against Hameed and registered an FIR against him for only one consignment. After registration of case investigation was assigned to inspector Hamid Babar who arrested the accused and produced him in Customs court but did not seek physical remand of the accused for further detection of corruption. Accused was given in judicial custody by the court and no further inquiry was made by the investigation officer.
Similarly, an appraiser Saeed was arrested and his bail was cancelled by the Customs court but accused got interim bail from Lahore High Court. Another appraiser Amjad Khaliq was involved in case but he was exonerated during investigation.
Poor prosecution of the Customs Intelligence authorities could be gauged by the action against three accused among whom one had been given in judicial custody while other got interim bail from LHC and third one was exonerated during investigation. Customs Intelligence has failed to arrest the key accused Zafar who is the main beneficiary of the cases. Inspector Hamid Babar who is investigation officer in the said case, when contacted, said Zafar had gone underground so they could not arrest him. One former employee of Customs intelligence Amir alleged that blue eyed officials were posted in Customs intelligence for corruption purpose. He has filed applications to chairman NAB, director FIA, chairman FBR and Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) and all offices have taken up his applications and started inquiries into the matter. He claimed that Mushtaq Sargana was right hand of DG Customs Intelligence and influenced transfers and postings of the officials in Customs Intelligence. He believed that inspector Zulfiqar Dogar was arrested by the FIA red handed while taking bribe from an importer and a case was registered against him with FIA. But after some time, he was again posted at the same post due to reasons best known to the authorities concerned. His other peers Masood Akhtar Hawaldar, Masood Iqbal, Akram and Zafar were helping him in his ‘business’ matters. When contacted, Deputy Director Customs Intelligence Usman Tariq said that issue was unearthed by his department.
“We ourselves registered a case and arrested the officer allegedly involved in the embezzlement. He believed that corruption was committed during posting of former officers and they have no concern with it. About the posting of controversial officer inspector Zulfiqar Dogar he said, “No doubt a corruption case was registered against him with FIA but later on he was exonerated in that case and is posted agasint the current office on the orders of high ups”.

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