ISLAMABAD: A Senate panel on Thursday started sending cases of corrupt taxmen to the National Accountability Bureau for criminal investigations after both the Federal Board of Revenue and Prime Minister’s Office kept their actions limited to only lip service.
The special panel of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance also directed the FBR to reopen all other cases where officers were exonerated or given minor punishments by its top management despite establishing illegalities committed by them.
The committee has given three months deadline to the FBR management to take action in all such cases and submit a report to the Senate secretariat.
This was the first meaningful action taken by any state institution against corrupt mafias in the tax machinery.
Earlier, the Prime Minister’s Office also restricted its intervention to only seeking report of corrupt officers. The FBR management started exonerating all corrupt people after the change of management in November 2015.
Headed by Senator Mohsin Aziz of the PTI, the panel had called the former FBR (member) administration Shahid Jatoi and Tanveer Malik – currently serving Director General of Broadening of Tax base in the FBR, for assistance to arrest those people.
Both the gentlemen had played a critical role four years ago in unearthing what Tanveer Malik called “hardened criminals in the FBR”. However, their work was largely wasted due to compromises struck by the FBR management in the past.
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Throughout the committee proceedings, the FBR’s incumbent member administration Miss Tasneem Rehman kept defending her organisation. But Minister of State for Finance Rana Mohammad Afzal did not defend corrupt people.
“The special panel decided to send the cases of Asif Rasool, Sajid Hussain Arain and Abdul Hameed Abro to NAB for further investigations,” said Senator Mohsin Aziz.
He said that the cases were just the beginning and the committee would send more cases to the anti-graft body.
Asif Rasool has been accused of illegally accepting irreconcilable bank credits of Rs92 billion of Fatima Enterprises Multan, which were allegedly the concealed sales proceeds of the company for the tax years, 2008 to 2011. Only for the tax year 2008 and 2009 the FBR has now detected Rs4.5 billion loss.
However, the FBR has not taken any action against Asif Rasool and the inquiry proceedings are still under process.
Both Senator Mohsin Aziz and the minister of state for finance were not satisfied with the FBR’s action in the case.
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“The FBR is not taking any action against the officers and I am even unable to defend such cases,” said a visibly perturbed the minister.
The committee’s other member, Senator Mohsin Leghari preferred a systemic approach to end corruption in the FBR, saying, “even NAB cannot do much”.
Sajid Hussain Arain,
One of the most glaring corruption cases was that of Sajid Arain to whom Tanveer Malik described as a hardened criminal and a disgrace to the civil service of Pakistan.
“Sajid Hussain issued bogus tax refunds and was part of a gang,” said Tanveer Malik.
The FBR paid Rs59.54 million bogus refunds while Rs79 million payments, which Sajid had cleared, were blocked on the intervention of the Directorate of Intelligence & Investigation.
Instead of throwing the officer out of the service, the FBR just ‘censured’ him.
“Such ridiculous punishment of censuring a corrupt officer is injustice to the honest FBR officers and to those who made efforts to unmask them,” said Senator Mohsin Aziz, while referring his case to NAB.
“The FBR is not taking corruption cases seriously,” regretted Rana Mohmmad Afzal.
“Instead of sending Sajid behind the bars, the FBR has sent him for attending Senior Management Course for promotion to next grade,” disclosed Shahid Jatoi.
Abdul Hameed Abro
The committee also decided to send the case of Abdul Hameed Abro, who also allegedly issued bogus refunds, to NAB.
Charges of inefficiency and misconduct were proven against Abro but the FBR gave him minor penalty of stoppage of two increments in salary. He issued a minimum Rs172 million bogus refunds.
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“Action taken against these dacoits is insignificant compared with the crime they have committed,” said Senator Mohsin Aziz.
He said that minimum punishment should have been dismissal from service.
Asim Ansar Siddiqui
The FBR has exonerated Asim Siddiqui – a grade 19 officer – despite charges of misconduct were proved against him.
He is allegedly director in two offshore companies. After the intervention of the Senate committee, the FBR on Tuesday wrote a letter to the United Kingdom authorities to seek information about his offshore companies.
The minister of state for finance was again speechless on the FBR’s inaction.
Shahid Jatoi disclosed that the FBR ignored the illegal foreign visits of Asim Siddiqui during the investigations.
The standing committee also directed the FBR to submit details of the cases of Sharif Awan and Ali Salman Abbasi, who has already retired from service.
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