ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has issued illegal exemption certificates to the dignitaries of the ruling family of Qatar for importing luxury vehicles, it was learnt.
Sources told Pakistan Today that customs intelligence high-ups have written a letter to the chief collector (appraisement) South, Customs House, Karachi, stating that since 2012, as many as 330 luxury vehicles imported for the Qatar embassy have been unlawfully cleared by various customs outfit falling under the chief collector’s administrative control.
According to the letter, the initial investigation found out that illegal exemption certificates have been issued by the MoFA.
Rawalpindi customs intelligence has also sought the complete import record of 280 used luxury vehicles unlawfully imported in the names of members of ruling family of Qatar from the chief collector.
Earlier, the customs DG wrote a letter to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman alleging that the MoFA had issued unlawful exemption certificates to 330 vehicles. However, it was actually the customs officials in Karachi who allowed unlawful clearance of impugned luxury vehicles under PCT heading 9902.
The ministry of foreign affairs issued an incomplete exemption certificate in all the cases and details of the diplomatic mission were intentionally left blank.
According to sources, 30 dignitaries of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and Bahrain can import household articles and personal belongings including vehicles and goods for donation to projects established in Pakistan, subject to the conditions that a complete list of all vehicles showing name of the owner, details of imports and present custodian shall be provided by the concerned embassies’ ambassadors.
Moreover, the rulers of UAE, Qatar and Bahrain must make and disclose alternate arrangements for the maintenance of their fleet by their employees and not by any Pakistani posing as their agents or authorised representatives. They should also undertake that no Pakistani will be allowed the use of their duty free vehicles and that they will abide by this concession available to them.
Sources said that in order to avail the duty concession, an exemption certificate to this effect shall be issued by the MoFA. On the recommendations of ministry, the FBR may issue an exemption certificate to any dignitary, not listed above under this PCT code.
The Qatari embassy claimed that the vehicles were imported by Sheikh Hamid bin Jasim bin Jabber Al-Thani and these vehicles were parked in former senator Saifur Rehman’s properties in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.
Moreover, sources said that this is a procedural issue whether the Qatari embassy provided the list to MoFA or not.
As per record, out of the 330 vehicles, only 50 were exported out of Pakistan while the remaining 280 vehicles are still in the country.
It is pertinent to mention here that customs intelligence has so far seized 23 such used luxury vehicles while the remaining 257 such vehicles were still kept in hiding in Pakistan. Out of the 23, 21 vehicles were confiscated from the property known as Redco Textiles owned by ex-senator Saifur Rehman, according to documents.
Moreover, a customs court on Friday sent the manager of Redco Textiles to jail. The customs intelligence officials had, however, demanded the remand of the accused.
Pakistan Today tried to contact the MoFA spokesperson but no response was received.