Windfall for senior lawyers in Rs47bn tax evasion case
ISLAMABAD, July 26: As in the famous case of Haris Steel Mills and Bank of Punjab (BoP) being tried in the Supreme Court, names of some senior lawyers charging unusually high fees have surfaced in the Rs47 billion tax evasion case against five mobile companies.
It has come to the notice of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) that a number of senior lawyers have reaped undue benefits from the five telecom companies.
“The investigation team of NAB comes across the startling information on payments of heavy fees to lawyers in the Rs47 billion tax evasion case with assurance of positive results in favour of telecom companies,” NAB Spokesman Zafar Iqbal said. He did not identify the senior lawyers.
“Maybe we will be in a position in the next three to four days to share the names of senior lawyers with the media,” said Ayesha Siddiqa, adviser to the NAB chairman.
The NAB spokesman said the investigation team was in the process of corroborating this information with the available evidence collected from various sources.
“The team is deliberating on various aspects relating to the investigation where defrauded amount was used generously to get favours from certain quarters,” he said.
NAB Chairman Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari had taken notice of the matter to protect the Rs47 billion and asked the chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue to appear in person to provide details about the defaulted amount.
On July 11, NAB summoned representatives of the five telecom companies—National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC), Pakistan Telecom Mobile Company Ltd (PTML), Telenor, Pakistan Mobile Communication Ltd (PMCL) and Warid — for recording their statements in the case.
The investigation team has taken over relevant record into its custody from FBR’s chief commissioner large tax units.
NAB recommended the names of three senior FBR officials for placement on the Exit Control List and forwarded the names to the ministry of interior.
The three are former FBR chairman Mumtaz Haider Rizvi, Inland Revenue Member Shahid Hussain Asad and Chief Sales Tax/FED Abdul Sattar Aora.
NAB officials claimed that timely intervention had thwarted an FBR move to grant a waiver on the Rs47 billion tax.
The FBR chairman in his statement tried to convince the inquiry committee that the waiver was in line with the law.
But, he thanked NAB for its timely intervention and guidance for protecting the interest of the national exchequer and of the FBR.
The NAB spokesman said mobile companies were evading tax since 2007 and the FBR did not take notice of this at that time and notice was taken in 2010 by the FBR tax auditors.