Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has issued notices to five telcos – National Telecommunications Corporation (NTC), Pakistan Telecommunications Mobile Company Ltd (PTML), Telenor Pakistan, Warid Pakistan and Mobilink (previously known as Pakistan Mobile Communications Ltd, PMCL) – to appear before investigators tomorrow, the Associated Press of Pakistan reports. The telcos are under investigation for evading tax and excise duties amounting to some PKR47 billion (USD489.95 million) since 2007. As previously noted by CommsUpdate the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) discovered the evasion earlier this year, and brought a case against the operators, which claimed that the evasion had been inadvertent. The NAB intervened to prevent loss of funds to the state after the FBR was prepared to pardon the operators provided that they pay the correct amount from then on.
In its most recent statement, the NAB has highlighted the Voluntary Return (VR) option, setting a three-day deadline for the providers to hand over the liabilities, plus surcharge and penalties. If the deadline is missed, however, the operators’ only option will be to opt for a Plea Bargain. Whilst it has not yet made any accusations, the NAB seems to suspect a level of complicity or corruption amongst the staff of the FBR, forwarding the names of three senior FBR officials to the Ministry of the Interior, recommending they be added to the Exit Control List (ECL), denying them leave to exit the country. The NAB investigation also claims to have discovered substantial payments to lawyers assuring the telcos’ success in the tax evasion case.