LAHORE - The Model Customs Collectorate, Peshawar have unearthed a fraud of billions of rupees tax evasion by around 19 steel pipe mills, which they are committing for the last 11 years, but the Model Customs Collectorate, Lahore is taking no action, giving freehand to the companies to continue corruption.

Official sources told The Nation that around 19 steel pipe mills were granted manufacturing bond licence under SRO 450 (I)2001 by the Collector Customs, Lahore. The licences were granted from 2002 to onward, allowing them to import duty-free steel sheets (CRC/HRC), Zink Inget/Scrap fro re-export to abroad after manufacturing of their end products. But all the companies instead of exporting goods, sold the whole stock in local market and evaded billions of rupees in the form of duties and taxes, officials said.

As per documents available with The Nation, Model Customs Collectorate Peshawar, Collector Zulfiqar A Kazmi, in a letter written to Mrs Zeba Hai Azhar, Collector Customs (Appraisement), has sought action against manufacturers working under manufacturing bond regime. He said that collectorate has detected fake exports by the steel companies and lodged FIR against them and forwarded the case to Lahore office for further proceedings. The matter is still pending and no action has been initiated by Mrs Zeba.

They said that on specific information, the Ex-Additional Collector Asif Jah, constituted audit teams for investigation of the matter. The export record provided by one of the mills, M/s. Pakistan Tube Mills was found fake and a case for evasion of duty and taxes amounting to Rs311 million was registered against the license, one accused person Sheikh Arshad was arrested and handed over to the I&P Cell Customs House for further inquiry and investigation.

Sources said that I&P Staff, including Farhat Bukhari, reported the defective challan to the court and other respondents were ignored and declared as innocent. The arrested accused is still under judicial remand and enjoying the stay at air-conditioned room at Services Hospital, Lahore on fake medical grounds.

Official sources further said that the audit of M/s. Bashir Pipe Mills and Supreme Tube Industries was also under the process and near to the final report. These two mills have availed the exemption of duty and tax-free imports amounting to Rs2.2 billion approximately. The investigation was under process when Asif Jah was immediately transferred and the audit team was also dissolved.

The fraudulent steel mills included M/s. Modem Pipe Mills (Pvt.) ltd, M/s. Karachi Tube Mills (Pvt.) Ltd, M/s. Ajmer Traders, M/s. Hajvery Traders, M/s. Mahboob Tube Mills, M/s. BBJ Pipe Industries (Pvt.) Ltd, M/s. Paramount Steel Traders, M/s. Fast Tube Mills (Pvt.) Ltd, M/s. MP Industries, M/s. City Steel Mills (Pvt) ltd, M/s. Abdul Haq Pipe Industries (Pvt.) Ltd, M/s. A.F. Steel Re-rolling Mills Lahore, M/s. A.N. Industries, M/s. Sufi Steel, M/s. Shalimar Steel,M/s. New Shalimar Steel, M/s. Mughal Steel Industries, M/s. Supreme Tube Mils and M/s. Bashir Pipe Mills.

When contacted, the Federal Revenue Alliance Union president Mian Abdul Qayyum said that the matter of tax evasion by the steel Mills came in union knowledge and the union will take the issue with the chairman of the FBR very soon. He condemned the FBR officials for protecting all major dummy companies, which committed a fraud of billions of rupees through flying invoices since 2002. He said that though FIR was registered against those companies but no action was taken even after a lapse of almost 11 years.

He said that the new FBR chairman has assumed charge at a crucial time when the Board has suffered massive revenue shortfall. He has big responsibility to take concrete measures to stop tax evasion and take action against corrupt officials in the department with a view to enhance revenue.

NAMES OF STEEL MILLS

1. M/s. Modem Pipe Mills (Pvt.)

2. M/s. Karachi Tube Mills (Pvt.)

3. M/s. Ajmer Traders

4. M/s. Hajvery Traders.

5. M/s. Mahboob Tube Mills.

6. M/s. BBJ Pipe Industries (Pvt.)

7. M/s. Paramount Steel Traders.

8. M/s. Fast Tube Mills (Pvt.) Ltd.

9. M/s. MP Industries

10. M/s. City Steel Mills (Pvt.) ltd.

11. M/s. A Haq Pipe Industries (Pvt.)

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12. M/s. A.F. Steel Re-rolling Mills

13 M/s. A.N. Industries.

14. M/s. Sufi Steel.

15. M/s. Shalimar Steel

16. M/s. New Shalimar Steel.

17. M/s. Mughal Steel Industries

18. M/s. Supreme Tube Mils.

19. M/s. Bashir Pipe Mills.