The Bentley confiscated by customs authorities is being taken away.—Twitter
The Bentley confiscated by customs authorities is being taken away.—Twitter

KARACHI: In what could be described as a bizarre case of theft, tax evasion and illegal registration of a luxury car, customs officials raided a house in Defence Housing Authority and recovered a Bentley Mulsanne allegedly stolen from London and registered here with the Sindh excise and taxation department, it emerged on Saturday.

Sleuths of a foreign country tracked down the exact location of the car and informed customs authorities here, who also took into custody two persons from the DHA house and lodged an FIR.

The excise department was accused as a ‘facilitator’ in evading taxes amounting to over Rs300 million as the provincial government registered the luxury vehicle, whose assessed value at the time of import was shows as Rs41.43m, without permission of the foreign ministry and a no-objection certificate from the customs.

According to the FIR lodged against the held suspects — Jameel Shafi, Naveed Bilawani and an unidentified facilitator of the Sindh Excise and Taxation Department and other persons — the Collectorate of the Customs Enforcement Office received a ‘credible’ information from the intelligence agency of a friendly country that a Bentley had been stolen from London and their intelligence agency indicated that the said vehicle was suspected to be parked in a house (15-B, South, 10th Street) in DHA, Karachi.

‘Owner’ failed to produce legal papers of luxury car tracked down by foreign authorities

Accordingly, the customs officials carried out surveillance and after fulfilling legal formalities visited the house along with a lady officer and identified the vehicle parked there.

The officials asked the ‘owner’, Jameel Shafi, to provide legal documents of the vehicle upon which he, instead of producing legal documents, gave the statement that the said vehicle had been sold to him by a person named Naveed Bilwani with terms of agreement that Mr Bilwani would bear all liabilities to clear required documentation from the concerned authorities till November 2022.

“As his statement was not satisfactory and he could not produce the document of the said vehicle therefore, the vehicle was taken into possession accordingly,” according to the FIR.

In the meantime, Naveed Bilwani also appeared there.

On being asked to furnish the legal documents of the vehicle, Bilwani showed his ‘inability’ to provide requisite documents and was not able to give ‘satisfactory reply’.

“…No legal documents were provided by both the accused persons showing legal ownership except the vehicle sale agreement given by Jameel Shafi which was not sufficient.”

Later on, during the preliminary investigation, Bilwani informed the customs that he had only helped brokering a deal between Shafi and another person namely Naveed Yamin as a guarantor of payment and papers and Mr Yamin received cash and pay orders from Shafi as payment against the vehicle.

“The said vehicle was checked from Motor Registration Excise and Taxation Department, govt. of Sindh, website which showed that the vehicle is already registered with Motor Registration Excise and Taxation Department, which is against the law as in the said case, sale permission from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NOC from Pakistan Customs as well as payment of duty and taxes are required,” the FIR stated.

“This suspicious registration of the vehicle indicates connivance of staff of Motor Registration Excise and Taxation Department,” the FIR said.

Therefore, the both the said persons were taken into custody.

The customs department nominated Naveed Yamin and an unknown official of the excise department in the said case registered under relevant laws of the Customs Act of 1969.

The customs officials believed that the said persons ‘illegally’ possessed and dealt in the said vehicle by evading the amount of duty and taxes to the tune of Rs307,427,997.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2022

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