Two more arrested in betel leaf import scam

Handcuffs - Arrest by Police

LAHORE: National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Lahore, Tuesday arrested two more betel leaf importers for causing a loss of Rs26.757 million to national exchequer by evading/miscalculating custom duty liable on import of betel leaf in a Rs2.6 billion corruption case.

According to a spokesman for NAB, the accused persons were identified as Sheikh Muhammad Naseem and Aqeel Ahmed. Sheikh Muhammad Naseem used to import betel leaf from Sri Lanka and is liable to pay Rs25.758 million, whereas, other accused Aqeel Ahmed evaded custom duty worth around one million rupees by paying far less duty in a government designated bank as compared to the amount shown on the hard copies of Goods Declaration (GDs), the spokesman said. NAB Lahore is investigating a mega corruption scam related to evasion and miscalculation of custom duty on import of betel leaf from abroad during 2008-12.

According to the spokesman, in accordance with Pak-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement, betel leaf is being imported from Sri Lanka to Pakistan, whereas, by alleged evasion and miscalculation, custom duty was embezzled by the accused in connivance with Customs officials and numerous private importers caused a loss to government exchequer worth Rs2.6 billion. NAB Lahore has, so far, arrested 15 other accused persons involved in this scam.

Physical remand of accused Aqeel Ahmed has been acquired from accountability court until December 14, while Sheikh Muhammad Naseem’s remand has also been obtained until December 19, the spokesman added.

Drug pusher jailed: Additional District and Sessions Judge Shahid Bashir on Tuesday awarded one year and three months jail term to a drug pusher, Babar Parvez. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on the convict. In case of default in payment of the fine, the convict will face further jail term.

As per case details, police had arrested Babar Parvez and seized hashish from his possession. Later, a challan was submitted before the court declaring him guilty of drug trafficking. boycott: Speakers at a seminar said that eliminating the menace of corruption from society would remain a dream until complete social boycott of corrupt officials is done.

“We can’t relate corruption with poverty alone as billionaires are also indulging in illegal acts to mint more money,” the speakers said at a seminar organised by Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE), Punjab, at Alhamra Hall on Tuesday.

ACE Punjab Director General Brig (retd) Muzzaffar Ali Ranjha said the chief minister had fulfilled his promise made to him that he would not use his powers to support any politician or any government officer. He said people should identify corrupt officials and ACE would stand firm behind such whistle-blowers.

The DG said that his department had recovered billions of rupees this year from corrupt elements and also sent hundreds of them behind bars. He also made it clear that investigation did not mean to create hindrances in progress rather it meant to make progress in a transparent manner. “We have decided that transparency and progress would go hand in hand”, Muzzaffar Ranjha said.

Students of Government College University, Lahore, and other colleges also staged a drama on corruption. Lahore Mayor Col (retd) Mubashar Javed, renowned writer and poet Amjad Islam Amjad, Justice (retd) Faqir Muhammad Khokhar, noted actor Muhammad Shahid, cricketer Muhammad Yousaf and Chief Traffic Officer (CTO) Rai Ijaz also spoke on the occasion.

(The News)