Car smuggling is still common in the country and one of the major reasons behind this is the lack of action taken in these instances.
Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera, Federal Tax Ombudsman, in a directive on Monday, has probed the investigation done by Customs in instances of non-custom paid vehicles. He underlined the fact that Customs officers hadn’t mentioned the names of the people they confiscated the vehicles from in any FIRs.
Between the years 2013 to 2019, around 3,299 vehicles were impounded and 1,662 cars were auctioned off. The ombudsman stated that from the 1,662 cars, 538 were auctioned off at a lower price than their original cost. Astonishingly, no information is available on 621 vehicles and it isn’t known from whom they were impounded or who bought them.
26 vehicles were auctioned off just before their confiscation orders came about, according to the order and the information on the names of owners/persons from whom the vehicles were impounded were once again missing. Furthermore, the CNICs of successful bidders aren’t on the record in the other 621 cases, according to the order.
The ombudsman even pointed towards a Toyota Hilux impounded in Multan. He said, the “vehicle was confiscated and auctioned but no investigation was initiated against the person(s) for presenting fake documents or wrong verification of fake documents.”
The ombudsman said “acts of omission or commission, including inefficiency” indicate that the relevant officials aren’t capable of discharging their duties.
He added that the Customs officers had failed to catch a single illegal owner, no FIRs were filed, and the information from the last 10 years indicated that “the discretion vested in the office of the Collector had been exploited”.
Based on the information available, the ombudsman has informed the relevant stakeholders to change the Customs laws and ensure accountability.