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ISAF containers' case : NAB giving clean chit to accused: SC

21 February, 2013

ISLAMABAD: During the hearing of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) containers' case on Wednesday, the Supreme Court sought details from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) of its correspondence with the Ministry of Law regarding formation of tribunals under the Customs Act.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, resumed hearing on the third and tenth progress reports in the ISAF containers scandal.

Expressing annoyance with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the bench said that no progress had been shown by it; therefore the matter may be referred to the federal tax ombudsman for probe.

The court also turned down a report submitted by NAB's Additional Prosecutor General Rana Zahid over ISAF containers, observing that no progress has been made in the matter since two years. The chief justice noted that NAB had mentioned tax evasion of Rs 19 billion in the scandal, whereas the FBR had pointed out that the national kitty suffered Rs 54 billion loss.

During the hearing, Shamim Rana, counsel for the FBR, told the bench that a total of Rs 10.6 million have been recovered so far and more than 11,000 show-cause notices have been issued. He said as many as 500 appeals were pending due to the non-functioning of the tribunals.

Rana said the FBR had established a separate department to look into ISAF containers' case. Expressing annoyance over non-implementation of the court's orders in the matter, the chief justice said that tax evaders were given a clean chit by NAB. He also said that neither tax was recovered nor action taken against them by the authorities concerned.

Justice Khilji Arif Hussain observed, "The FBR should say that it intentionally avoided nabbing the tax evaders in the instant matter." The hearing of the case has been adjourned till February 22.

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