ISLAMABAD: Police have booked the son of Senator Ilyas Bilour on charges of rioting, confinement of public officials, and criminal intimidation after he allegedly stopped taxmen from confiscating the records of a company whose office was raided on suspicion of tax evasion.
The incident took place in Peshawar on Friday when a team from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Inland Revenue Directorate of Intelligence and Investigation raided the premises of MKB Pharmaceuticals Private Limited.
MKB Pharmaceuticals is a concern of the MKB Group, which deals in a wide range of industries, including pharmaceuticals, furniture, and plastic products.
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The FBR had raided the premises on “credible information” that the company was involved in sizeable tax evasion.
As the FBR team raided the premises, the director of the company called Ghazanfar Bilour, the son of Awami National Party (ANP) stalwart Senator Ilyas Bilour, for help, according to the FIR. Ghazanfar drove to the spot in an SUV carrying the senator’s nameplate and was armed with Kalashnikovs, according to the FIR and FBR documents.
According to the FBR, when the team took possession of records and computers of MKB pharmaceuticals, “Malik Niaz and Ghazanfar Bilour came into the premises with men armed with Kalashnikovs, forcibly stopped the officers from leaving, and detained them for one-and-a-half-hour.”
They threatened FBR Intelligence Director Tariq Arbab and seven other officials while physically blocking the exit point, the FBR added. There was also a heated argument in which an FBR deputy director told Ghazanfar that he was fulfilling legal obligations and if Ghazanfar had a problem, he should get the law amended through parliament, according to the FBR report.
Hayatabad Police, led by SHO Sardar Hussain, arrived at the spot and defused the situation.
Incidentally, Senator Ilyas is also a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue – a parliamentary panel with direct oversight of the FBR’s affairs. The incident shows the growing political intervention in the affairs of the tax machinery, which has further worsened matters for the FBR.
Talking to The Express Tribune, the senator confirmed the incident. He said the police had booked his son, but defended him by saying that Ghazanfar had every right to drive his vehicle with official senator nameplate. He also said that the government had provided weapons to his family due to the constant threats against them.
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The senator’s brother Bashir Bilour – who was a provincial minister – and his nephew Shabbir were killed in targeted terrorist attacks.
The Peshawar Police booked Ghazanfar on charges of rioting while armed with deadly weapons, obstructing public servants in discharge of public function, wrongful confinement and criminal intimidation, according to the First Investigation Report (FIR). If proven guilty, Ghazanfar could face up to three years in jail in addition to a fine.
This is not an isolated incident, as last year, FBR officials had been confined in Lahore when they dared to raid a boutique owned by the daughter of former finance minister Dr Salman Shah. Although an FIR had also been lodged in that case, nothing happened afterwards.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2017.