ISLAMABAD-In a major development, Benami Transactions Adjudicating Authority (BTAA) has confirmed 27 references involving an amount of Rs7.4 billion filed against benami transactions by the three Anti-Benami Zones in three cities. 

The references were filed in Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore which include movable as well as immovable benami properties. These include 5 cases of Benami shares in which Benami transaction of Rs159.644 million was identified, 6 references of Benami immovable properties worth Rs5,849.4 million, one case of Benami bank accounts worth Rs1,040.0 million, and 16 cases of Benami vehicles worth Rs351.55 million. As per law, the Ant-Benami Zones submit references in cases of suspected Benami assets before the Benami Transactions Adjudicating Authority for confirmation/ revocation of attachment of assets and then initiate confiscation proceedings. 

The Adjudicating Authority, an independent authority established under the law, after due deliberation provides an opportunity of being heard to the alleged benamidars and beneficial owners and the referring department as well. The Adjudicating Authority after completing all legal and administrative requirements/ formalities either confirms or revokes the attachment orders issued by the Initiating Officers. The 27 references were submitted by the Benami Zones at Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore before the Adjudicating Authority which was confirmed involving Benami assets worth of Rs7.4 billion shall be confiscated after confirmation of orders from the Federal Appellate Tribunal as per law by the Federal Government. 

Meanwhile, in line with the directions of Federal Government and Chairman FBR, the Directorate General Intelligence and Investigation (Inland Revenue) has intensified the countrywide action against tax evaders and fraudsters (individuals, AOPs and corporate entities) involved in evasion of Sales Tax, Income Tax and Federal Excise Duty.  In this regard, Directorates of Intelligence and Investigation (Inland Revenue) has expedited the crackdown against tax fraudsters based on credible evidence and following due process of law based on legal provisions laid down in various tax statutes.

Directorate of Intelligence and Investigation-IR, Islamabad has detected a big case of sales tax evasion. As per the intelligence gathering, one of the Islamabad based plywood manufacturing unit was involved in evasion of sales tax by suppressing its taxable supplies in monthly sales tax returns. Pursuant upon the information and to safeguard the public revenue, a raid was conducted and premises of the said unit were searched. During the search, various record including invoices, receipt book, CPUs have been impounded and its scrutiny is underway. Furthermore, two raids were conducted by the Islamabad Directorate on 22nd December against two un-registered businesses located in Chakwal involved in huge tax evasion. The record has been impounded and its scrutiny is underway. It is expected that the quantum of tax involved will be in hundreds of millions in the three raids conducted by the Islamabad Directorate.

In a similar move, a campaign against smuggled, duty non-paid/illicit and counterfeit cigarettes, in compliance of FBR’s special directives dated 11th December 2020 to “deploy maximum resources for control of the menace of illegal and injurious cigarettes”, the Inland Revenue Intelligence & Investigation (I&I-IR) Directorate, Faisalabad has seized 426 cartons (4,260,000 sticks) from traders in Faisalabad and Sargodha, by conducting three different actions. The seized consignments are prima facie counterfeited/non-duty paid and are accordingly taken into custody in the presence of the proprietors and the representatives of local Press Club. Estimated tax and duties evaded on the recovered merchandise in all three cases may run in Multi-Million Rupees.

The Chairman Federal Board of Revenue and the Director General (Intelligence & Investigation-Inland Revenue), held meetings on this issue and the resolve of the government, FBR has accordingly been conveyed down the line as counterfeit cigarettes are not only extremely harmful from the point of view of health but at the same time causes huge losses to the national exchequer in terms of evasion of duties and taxes.

In the drive against illicit tobacco trade, the Directorate I&I-IR, Peshawar having jurisdiction over KPK Province, has taken multiple actions against the trade of counterfeit and non-duty paid cigarettes. The surveillance squad of Peshawar Directorate, on receipt of credible information, intercepted a truck in Swabi and recovered from it 20 cartons of filter rods having no relevant documents in support of payment of excise duty and taxes. On further inquiry, the team raided godown from where the filter rods were loaded in the truck and 19 more cartons of filter rods were confiscated for lack of having documentary evidence of payment of duty/taxes. A total of 39 cartons of non-duty paid filter rods were recovered which are sufficient for the production of 9,126,000 sticks of cigarettes (913 cartons) with anticipated duty/tax evasion of more than Rs25,000,000 in addition to evasion of duty of Rs1,521,000 being payable at clearance stage. In another action, more than 50 Cartons of counterfeit cigarettes were confiscated from two passenger vehicles in Peshawar.

Based on reliable information, the Directorate I&I-IR, Multan also conducted raids on two PVC manufacturers and successfully retrieved ample record and other documents. These units are involved in massive evasion of taxes by way of concealment of production/ issuance of flying invoices and incurred a substantial loss of revenue to the government exchequer. In an action against illicit non-duty paid tobacco trade, the Directorate I&I-IR, Multan has also seized 200,000 counterfeit/non-duty paid cigarettes and detained the stock. 

Realizing the importance of the matter and to curb the menace caused by the proceeds of crime from money laundering, the Director General I&I-IR has directed all the seven Directorates of I&I-IR to take strict cognizance of money laundering without any exception but purely on merit. This drive has also produced good results and by the end of October 2020, the total number of complaints (FIRs) registered under AMLA 2010 have reached 119 involving revenue of more than 88.4 billion and an amount of Rs6.22 billion has been recovered so far. In this process, 66 Immovable Properties and 203 Bank Accounts have been provisionally attached with the prior permission of the court under the provisions of AMLA 2010 and the cases are under trial in various courts of Special Judge Customs and Taxation, throughout the country.

The Director General (I&I-IR) has categorically stated that there is zero-tolerance for tax evasion particularly those involved in Money Laundering, Tax Fraud and Terror Financing. The Director General (I&I-IR) is fully cognizant of the fact and have directed the directorates that sole-proprietors and small businesses should not be targeted because this sector of the economy has adversely been hit by Corona pandemic. However, in line with Pakistan’s “Follow The Money” policy and zero tolerance for tax fraudsters, The Director General I&I-IR has urged all the Directorates of I&I-IR to ensure prompt legal actions against the tax evaders/money launderers following the law and without any harassment to the genuine taxpayers so that credible deterrence is created in line with the vision of Prime Minister of Pakistan.