Pakistani foreign office bureaucrats in car scam

June 13th, 2008 - 3:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, June 13 (IANS) Key bureaucrats at the Pakistani foreign office are being probed for colluding with foreign diplomats in illegal sales of imported cars and depriving the country of millions of rupees in taxes. Investigators have zeroed in on at least 58 instances of foreign office bureaucrats issuing bogus no objection certificates (NOCs) to enable diplomats to illegally sell their cars to Pakistani citizens and pocketing the money that would otherwise have to be paid in duties.

“The new duty-free expensive cars were sold as used cars,” The News said Friday, adding: “The shady deals went through their private agents, including some women.”

“We have identified 58 cars which were sold in the last 10 months,” the newspaper quoted a source in the Customs Intelligence wing, that unearthed the scam, as saying.

“The shocking part of the scam is that diplomats of foreign countries, mostly attaches and first and second secretaries, are also being suspected as collaborators,” the newspaper said.

It said diplomats from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Palestine, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden and Turkmenistan, among others, “have been identified in the first lot”.

Foreign Office officials involved in the scam, operating through private agents in Islamabad and one woman investor, have already been probed by the Customs Intelligence wing and the rest are being investigated.

The foreign office is now scrambling to cover up the scam by saying “unknown” outsiders might have issued the fake NOCs.

Customs Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. (retired) Fahim Akhtar Khan May 31 wrote to Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir about the scam.

“The modus operandi so far detected indicates that either vehicles were purportedly imported against fake exemption certificates or disposed of against bogus/forged sales permission,” Khan wrote.

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