A new trend of blackmailing local and multinational companies has surfaced — allegedly with assistance from government authorities.
According to Express News, some officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) – in connivance with “private detectives” – have started a new series of scams which include blackmailing and demanding bribes from local and multinational trade and business organisations on the pretext of action against tax evasion.
The process starts with certain income tax officials providing initial financial information of selected manufacturing companies to private investigation companies and detectives. These detectives then dig out private information from the company’s financial accounts.
The classified information is provided to the officials of the FIA, who, in turn, issue letters demanding extensive paperwork, internal company financial and audit records and hectic paperwork which is essentially impossible for companies to provide in full.
One such private detective, Moin Aziz Mirza, operates an undercover detective agency. Express News quoted him as saying that said he is paid for his services by the FIA and income tax officials.
However, sources within the FIA claim that no extra funds are available in the organisation to pay any sort of private investigation agencies – which raises the question of who is paying for these services.
The official paperwork demanded from these companies by the FIA officials seeks all financial records of the company on the pretext of investigation “tax evasion”. The officials then ultimately threaten the companies and demand hefty amounts in bribes to “toss” away the “cases”.
A number of companies received such letters, signed by FIA inspector Muhammad Anwar, seeking exceptionally hefty amounts of paperwork and financial data for investigating tax evasion.
The documents demanded includes original CNICs, sales tax returns, details of all purchases made during the two financial returns and its classification, 10 copies of all invoices of sales taxes, audit reports of sales tax and income tax department, lists of prices of the products and copies of all the agreements made with distributors and dealers — essentially rendering it impossible for companies to comply with the demands.
Private spy Mirza openly admitted to assisting the FIA officials and said that he is paid by officials of the FIA for his services.
“Yes, I help them blackmail companies. You can try taking legal action against me,” Express News quoted him as saying.
According to the report, Mirza runs a spy company in a one-room office that is not registered or licensed.
Mirza said that many tax evaders often go unmonitored after paying bribes to officers in the FIA. He said that Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) former chairman Talat Javed cleared one such company despite the fact that various company departments had confirmed it was involved in heavy tax dodging.
According to sources, the Central Board of Revenue and the income tax department have a host of investigators to monitor such unscrupulous activities but some officials continue to avail services of unofficial private agents so that the opportunity for blackmailing is more potent.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 29th, 2012.