NAB arrests 9 custom officials in betel leaf import scam


LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Lahore has arrested nine custom officials, clearing agents and importers over allegations of embezzlement in import of betel leaf from India and Sri Lanka.

According to a NAB spokesman, the bureau had received a complaint regarding embezzlement in customs duty, causing a loss of Rs 2.6 billion to the national exchequer between 2007 and 2012.

Those arrested include Ghulam Murtaza, Muhammad Fayyaz, Muhammad Shakeel, Khairat Ali, Shahid Hussain Bhutta, Rehan Elahi, Rashid Yaqoob, Muhammad Saeed and Abdul Khaliq Zaki.

During the initial investigation, it was revealed that certain goods declaration showed duty/taxes as having been paid in full with the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), but factually no amount was deposited.

Duty/taxes actually paid were far less than the amounts shown on the hard copies of goods declarations. The customs and NBP officials allegedly did this by adding extra digits in front of the amounts actually deposited in the bank.

According to details, 58 firms remained engaged in the import of betel leaves with the help of customs clearing agents at Lahore airport.

The accused were presented before an accountability court for seeking their physical remand.