KARACHI: It has come to light that Diplomatic immunity results have complicated the work of both the investigators and the prosecution in the investigation of a scam involving the import of a Bentley Mulsanne, which is said to have been stolen in the United Kingdom and registered here in the name of a European diplomat.
Toward the beginning of September, Customs specialists recuperated the 2014 Bentley Mulsanne V8 (esteemed Rs41,439,322) from a house in Safeguard Lodging Authority. Jameel Shafi, the high-end vehicle’s local buyer, and Naveed Bilwani, who allegedly facilitated the four-wheeler’s clearance illegally, were taken into custody.
A special customs court is hearing the case, and the deadline for the final charge sheet is January 11, 2023.
According to documents seen by Dawn, the high-end vehicle was imported in 2019 by a European Diplomatic immunity results in Islamabad. A quick look at the vehicle’s registration number on the Sindh excise department’s online vehicle verification portal reveals that it was registered on May 21, 2020, under the name “H. E. Aleksandar Borisov Parashkevov.” The vehicle was identified by the number plate BRS-279.
Additionally, official documents suggested that customs officials had previously attempted to seize the high-end vehicle in Karachi. However, the Bulgarian embassy had intervened and informed the foreign ministry that the vehicle had not been sold to anyone and was being used by “service staff” of the foreign mission, so the “customs department had no jurisdiction at all to seize, confiscate, or impound the vehicle.”
The ambassador of Bulgaria in Pakistan is said to have brought the vehicle into Pakistan in 2019 to begin the story.
Mr. Parashkevov of the Embassy of Bulgaria received an exemption certificate from the Pakistani government in November 2019 to import dutiable goods for personal use from other countries.
On December 26, 2019, an official letter from the Bulgarian Embassy to the Sindh excise and taxation department stated that the shipment (Bentley Mulsanne) belonged to the then-ambassador Aleksandar Borisov Parashkevov. “Issue cover registration number plate of the vehicle due to security reasons,” the embassy requested of the Sindh government.
The occasion took a turn when the traditions specialists evidently gave a spotless chit to the unfamiliar mission in a break charge sheet submitted in court and charge-sheeted six Pakistanis including Jameel Shafi, Naveed Bilwani, and ‘anonymous’ authorities of the extract and tax collection division over their contribution in freedom of vehicles under political exclusions for various consulates.
“during the scrutiny of the papers/documents submitted by the clearing agent, five letters purportedly issued by the Embassy of Bulgaria addressed to the ETO, Deputy Collector of Customs, M/s Hapag Lloyd all issued on 25/11/2019 ‘without bearing any signature’ had surfaced which were used during the clearance of the vehicle from different departments,” the interim charge sheet stated.
The charge sheet also stated that it was a well-established fact that neither the payment for hiring the services of M/s World Ocean Center or M/s Focus Shipping Agencies nor the payment for delivery order charges was made by the Embassy of Bulgaria.
It stated that “all these payments were done privately in cash” and that “no evidence regarding payment from the Embassy could be retrieved so far that could substantiate that the vehicle belongs to the Embassy of Bulgaria.” “All these payments were done privately in cash” Diplomatic immunity results
Dawn was told by anonymous customs sources that “since the matter involves a foreign embassy, therefore, the same will be looked into by the ministry of foreign affairs,” which was provided by the sources.
Even if it turns out that a foreign diplomat was involved in the con.
A senior official stated, “In the presence of the diplomatic impunity granted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the Diplomatic and Consular Privileges Act, 1972, there is no chance of his or her being charged and prosecuted.”
When contacted, however, Ashiq Awan, the special public prosecutor in charge of the customs department, stated that the issue of charging any foreigner in the case would be resolved in the final charge sheet.
While the last charge sheet is yet to be recorded, the break charge sheet expressed that the Whatsapp correspondence between suspects Navaid and Fahad Ahmed Khan (worker of M/s Center Delivery Organizations, who is an indictment observer for this situation) had shown that it was not only an instance of one single vehicle pirated by mishandling political privileges rather “there is a plenty of vehicles carried”.
It stated that the investigating agency was contacting various parties to verify the shipments’ antecedents and that the data in question was also the subject of investigation and verification.
However, sources within the customs department were of the opinion that a further development in the case of additional automobiles that were allegedly smuggled under the aliases of various embassies might open a brand-new Pandora’s Box.
They stated that it would be very difficult to prosecute any foreign diplomat in Pakistan if they were discovered to be involved in the scam due to the diplomatic immunity that could shield them from criminal charges.