CNG kits import scam detected
KARACHI: The customs authorities have detected a scam wherein a large quantity of CNG cylinders and kits were being imported under the garb of storage cylinders in contravention of import policy.
The Ministry of Commerce had imposed ban on import CNG cylinders and kits early this year but allowed all those whose letters of credit (L/Cs) had been opened prior to Dec 15, 2011.
The ministry also allowed imports of CNG cylinders and kits where Bill of Lading had been issued prior to Dec 15, 2011.
However, on chasing several shipments at ports of entry, the customs authorities found that most of these documents were being tampered with to meet the deadlines fixed by the ministry.
Citing an example, the customs authorities told Dawn that on Oct 23, certain bills of lading where shipments from India had arrived in May 2012 on B/Ls purported to have been issued prior to Dec 15, 2011, were forwarded to this office for investigation and to determine propriety of the B/Ls.
The customs investigation team suspected that the B/Ls may have been manipulated by fixing backdates to contravene the import policy order because the journey time from India to Pakistan was less than 36 hours and yet consignments were arriving after months of issuance of B/Ls.
The customs authorities collected details of Master Bill of Lading and container loading details from the shipping lines operating the vessels that brought the cargo to Pakistan.
Customs sources said that bills of lading presented to customs were indeed manipulated and dates were altered to contravene the import policy order. It proved that fictitious Bill of Lading were being presented by importers in collusion with their freight forwarders and clearing agents which resulted in clearance of a number of containers loaded with CNG cylinders and kits in violation of the Import Policy Order.
The customs authorities are unable to ascertain how many containers loaded with CNG cylinders and kits have been cleared since the imposition of ban.
Sources said some consignments lying at Pakistan International Container Terminal (PICT) loaded with some 3,711 CNG cylinders and kits pending clearance have been detained and FIR has been lodged against importer(s).
In another case, customs authorities detected that imported CNG cylinders and kits were cleared on declaring them storage cylinders.