Customs seize 12 planes of Shaheen Air, lodge FIR for tax evasion
KARACHI: The customs authorities have registered a case against the Shaheen Air International (SAI) and seized 12 of its aircraft, directing the airline not to sell or scrap the planes without paying taxes said to be running into hundreds of millions of rupees to the government, it emerged here on Sunday.
The SAI was in the process of selling, scrapping the aircraft, which were parked at Karachi airport, at a price of about Rs1.5 million each, sources said.
Besides the 12 planes sitting idle at the airport for long, the SAI has 18 operational aircraft, of which one plane was damaged in the recent attacks at the airport, said the sources.
The FIR mentioning case No SI/Misc/68/2014 – AFU (Audit) has been registered by customs preventive officer, Syed Hassan Mehdi, against SAI’s managing director, directors and partners for violating Sections 2 (s), 32 (2) & 79 of the Customs Act 1969 which is punishable under clauses 8, 14 & 47 of Section 156 (1) ibid read with Sales Tax Act 1990 and Income Tax Ordinance 2001. No one has been arrested yet.
The description of the SAI’s seized aircraft and their registration numbers are: AP BIT; AP BHA; AP BJI; AP BJH; AP BIP; AP BIR; AP BIK; AP BIS; AP BIQ; AP BHC; AP BHB and AP BIU. The value of, duty and taxes on, these aircraft were to be ascertained, said the FIR.
The FIR says: “It was learnt from a reliable source that M/S Shaheen Air International Limited, Karachi, temporarily imported 12 aircraft (mentioned above) under different lease agreements. It started scrapping the aircraft without getting prior permission from the customs authorities as required under Section 79 of the Customs Act 1969.
“In order to confirm the information the undersigned (Syed Hassan Mehdi) and a team of customs officers from rummaging and patrolling section, Jinnah International Airport, Karachi, physically inspected SAI’s ‘on-ground’ aircraft on the apron of the airport.
“On June 18, 2014, after physical inspection, it was found that 12 different aircraft (as mentioned above) belonging to the SAI that were parked in the ground area behind Bay No 28 at Jinnah International Airport were not intact; fittings therein (including engines etc) had been removed / dismantled.
“Musheernama to this effect was prepared on the spot. The information so received has further revealed that Shaheen Air International has approved a scrap dealer for cutting and removing of aircraft against a payment of Rs1.55 million each for five aircraft, which aspect is being probed into, to ascertain the extent of illegality committed by SAI to the total amount of taxes / duties evaded by them and to identify the persons responsible for the loss to the government exchequer.
“In the meantime, a notice under Section 168(1) has been served upon the management of the M/S Shaheen Air International not to remove, part with or otherwise deal with the said aircraft without prior permission of the customs authorities,” adds the FIR registered at the Customs air freight unit, Jinnah International Airport on June 18, 2014.
The sources said that it was not the first time the SAI had been caught red-handed by the customs evading customs, duties, taxes etc. Just a few weeks back the SAI staffers were caught shifting various goods including aircraft parts at Karachi airport without mandatory documentation and payment of taxes, duties, customs. A case was registered and the SAI admitted it was a mistake, said the sources.
The customs confiscated the goods but offered to release them if the SAI paid taxes plus fine etc, which the SAI paid. SAI deputy managing director Faisal Rafiq had earlier confirmed it in response to queries by Dawn.