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July 20, 2019

Customs probes suspected money laundering in imports from China


July 20, 2019

KARACHI: : Customs authorities have initiated money-laundering and tax evasion probe into the transfer of billions of rupees worth of foreign currency through hawala into bank accounts mostly in China for import of packaging material by at least two local importers, sources said on Friday.

Authorities discovered Multan-based importers are involved in clearance of package material of food products by way of mis-declaration and concealment of actual transactions value, and suspected money laundering, a source said.

“Customs authorities had approached Chinese customs authorities for obtaining details of the invoices issued by Chinese manufacturers and mode of payment used by the Pakistani importers,” the source said.

Tax authorities believed that the values reported on goods declarations (GDs) were paid through normal banking channel, while the differential amount was paid through Hawala/Hundi by using another account maintained by two Pakistanis at ICBC Bank China.

“Two Pakistani nationals … have established local trading/exporting companies in China and maintaining RMB Accounts at ICBC Bank, China,” said a report shared with the Department of International Cooperation, General Administration of China Customs.

The report said traders ordered directly from manufacturers for purchase of packing material, while funds involved against such purchases were remitted by Pakistan-based importers in those two bank accounts through Hawala/Hundi.

“Thereafter the local traders / shippers transfer the amount in local currency onwards to the manufacturer through the banking channel. The manufacturer in return delivers consignment of packing material to the local traders against issuance of commercial invoices showing actual invoices in RMB.”

The report said foreign shipping companies were also involved in concealing actual bill of lading of those importers in order to mis-declare the consignments.

Pakistan Customs has identified around 86 such bill of ladings which were changed while on voyage. They have asked the Chinese customs to provide details under Mutual Agreement on Customs Affairs, including details of actual invoices issued by the manufacturers in respect of 86 consignments of packing material in case of Pakistani importers.

Further, details of remittances from Pakistan in bank accounts at ICBC, China maintained by the two Pakistani nationals were requested. It was also requested to provide details of funds transferred through these two bank accounts to the manufacturers in China, including names of recipients; amount received by them and relevant order/contract details.

The Chinese authorities have been also asked to provide details of other shipments of packing material during the period of July 2015 to April 2019 made by the specified Chinese traders and shippers to Pakistan.

The sources said the amount involved in such money laundering could not be ascertained as probe was in its initial stages.

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