Customs authorities in Pakistan say they have unearthed tax and duty evasion of millions of rupees by a cartel of importers who allegedly mis-declared imported toys as spare parts to evade levies for several years.

But members of the cartel have so far managed to avoid being penalised for their alleged trade-based financial crimes.

Mis-declaring and under-invoicing

Local media outlets have reported that customs officials at Port Qasim found that as well as mis-declaring goods as spare parts that in fact were toys, the cartel members were also systematically under-invoicing.

They also refused to pay detention charges for the storage or holding of containers at the port and avoided demurrage fees when their containers exceeded the time allotted for storage at the terminal.

Conviction overruled

The importers were convicted by customs adjudication of offences related to mis-declaration, duty evasion, under-invoicing and under-valuation.

But a court overruled the conviction and allowed the release of containers impounded by customs after payment of due duty, taxes and penalties.

Failed legal actions

The cartel however then obtained certificates from customs officials by “pressurising and blackmailing” them into issuing certification that exempted them from paying due duty, taxes and penalties.

Customs authorities have now served dozens of contravention reports on cartel members, but attempts by the authorities to bring successful legal action against the importers have failed so far.