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April 23, 2021

Seizure of fake cigarettes sparks controversy

National

April 23, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Two officers of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) have confronted each other over seizure of two truckloads of six million counterfeit cigarettes last week, causing a loss of over Rs12 million to the national exchequer in federal excise duty and sales tax.

Shujaat Ali Khan, Inland Revenue Audit Officer at FBR’s Regional Tax Office in Rawalpindi, said that no claimant of the seized counterfeit cigarettes had contacted them since the product was recovered on April 15 during a raid.

Shujaat Khan was one of the team members who intercepted two trucks carrying 600 packarites of counterfeited brands on Expressway Murree near Lower Topa.

He said the officials had recorded statements of the drivers who confessed to load the counterfeit cigarettes from Muzaffarabad and were destined to a wholesale market in Rawalpindi. The counterfeit cigarettes were allegedly manufactured in the Wayward factory in Rawani, Muzaffarabad.

However, Muhammad Khalid, Assistant Commissioner Inland Revenue in Muzaffarabad, came up with his own inquiry report which provides clean chit to the Babar Taj who is accused of major counterfeiting of almost all brands.

Khalid said in an inquiry report that he personally probed the matter from various goods forwarding agencies in Muzaffarabad city, but in the absence of booking/receipt number, no record/ information regarding the booking/loading of the said material was found.

He said that he joined his duties at business premises of M/S Wayward Tobacco Company in Muzaffarabad on March 29 this year and since then round the clock monitoring of the manufacturing unit was being carried out.

He said that no inward/outward movement of vehicles loaded with any kind of raw material of finished goods has been observed at the manufacturing unit.

The FBR said that worth of the seized cigarettes was Rs18.9 million with the tax evasion of around Rs12.6 million in the federal excise duty and sales tax.