Federal Minister for Finance Muhammad Ishaq Dar on Thursday informed the members of the lower house of the parliament that National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was investigating the cases of NATO/ISAF missing containers on the directives of Supreme Court of Pakistan.
“They (NAB) are in the process of finalizing the investigations/enquiry and has not yet communicated the number of persons found involved in the said scam. NAB has to submit their investigation report before Supreme Court of Pakistan. Information in this regard may be obtained from NAB authorities,” the minister said.
In a written reply during the Question Hour, the finance minister stated that the ISAF/NATO authorities through their letter dated 20th January 2011 categorically informed Pakistan that 26476 out of 26490 ISAF containers successfully crossed the border into to Afghanistan and or were correctly accounted for except few containers suffering mishap.
“Briefly stated, the Supreme Court of Pakistan based on media reports alleging that 11,000 missing containers of ISAF/NATO inside Pakistan, took a suo motu notice of the alleged pilferage in August, 2010 in relation to goods imported by ISAF/NATO (ISAF Container Scam” Case No.16 of 2010)”.
Later on, the minister stated that the Supreme Court handed over investigation to Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) through its order dated 30.09.2010.
“In the intervening period while FTO was probing this issue, the British High Commission (The Diplomatic Mission liaise on behalf of ISAF and acts as lead nation) confirmed through letter dated 20.01.2011 as mentioned above that containers belonging to ISAF/NATO forces imported during the relevant period, were received in Afghanistan or were correctly accounted for except few containers damaged or destroyed by miscreants,” he added.
The FTO, he added, in its report, thus shifted focused on commercial transit trade and based his findings on the data retrieved from terminals on sole assumption that containers returning empty within eight days or less (7922 containers identified) from border stations were allegedly missing.
“It was never a conclusive report and FTO emphasised on many occasion that error free reconciliation is called for by the FBR as PRAL data is highly unreliable to arrive at any reasonable conclusions on the basis of this data alone. Thus, it is not possible to compute the exact loss caused to the public exchequer and matter needs further investigation,” the minister added.
Afterwards, the minister added, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered NAB authorities to investigate this issue. “NAB is presently conducting investigation and has not yet firmed up its findings. Therefore, the exact number of containers and quantum of revenue loss thereof has not so far been determined”.
He said that the FTO’s report and report submitted by FBR before the Supreme Court of Pakistan detailing the investigation so far into the matter. The investigation reports submitted before the Supreme Court of Pakistan by NAB authorities may be obtained from NAB as these are not officially shared with FBR, he added.
It is worth mentioning that this matter is presently sub-judice for final disposal before the Supreme Court of Pakistan.