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Pakistan seizes 21 non-custom-paid luxury vehicles of Qatari royal family

Customs duty on the vehicles was initially waived for three months, but Qatari royal family never paid it later
International tax counsel says customs department can recover the duty by auctioning the vehicles

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Government has seized 21 non-custom-paid luxury vehicles of the Qatari royal family from the compound of a textile mill in the suburbs of Islamabad that were brought into the country for hunting purposes.
The customs department, which seized the vehicles, has begun an inquiry into the matter.
Malik Muhammad Anwar, Punjab Minister for Revenue, confirmed to Arab News that the vehicles had been seized, but declined to provide further details.
In a letter issued on Tuesday, a copy of which is available with Arab News, the Qatar embassy in Islamabad said that the vehicles belonged to Qatari dignitary Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Jabr Al-Thani, former prime minister of Qatar.
The embassy claimed that the vehicles were imported legally “for the purpose of hunting in Pakistan.”
The letter said that these vehicles were parked in ex-Senator Saif-ur-Rehman's premises in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.
An official at the Qatar embassy in Islamabad who identified herself as Najma also accepted ownership of the vehicles but declined to provide more details.
The luxury vehicles, including Land Cruisers, BMWs and Prados, were parked in a deserted Redco Textile Mills building on the outskirts of Islamabad. Saif-ur-Rehman, a close aide of ex-premier Nawaz Sharif, owns the mills.
Rehman did not return text messages and calls on his Qatari mobile number seeking details about the raid and payment of the customs duty on the luxury vehicles.
Arab News learnt from sources in the customs department that the 21 seized vehicles were part of a batch of 50 cars imported into Pakistan by the Qatari royal family three years ago for the hunting of houbara bustards.
The import duty applicable on all 50 cars was waived for three months by the then government through a statutory regulatory order. The Qatari royal family later neither paid the customs duty on the vehicles nor took them back to Doha.
The customs department has issued a legal notice to the manager of the textile mill, directing him to provide legal documents for the seized vehicles within three days. If he fails to submit the documents showing payment of the customs duty, a criminal case will be registered against the manager for keeping the non-custom-paid vehicles Dr. Ikramul Haq, a renowned international tax counsel, said that the customs department under the law can confiscate the non-custom paid vehicles and a case of smuggling can be registered against the owner of the vehicles.
“The crime carries five-year imprisonment, fine and auction of the confiscated vehicles under the law,” he told Arab News, “but in this case, if the duty is not paid, the vehicles will be auctioned. I don’t see a criminal case being registered (against the Qatari royal family).
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