Thursday, 22 September 2016

Watchdog reports systematic corruption at the Customs of the Afghan province of Herat

The independent committee to monitor corruption in the western zone on Monday raised concerns over what it called systematic corruption at Herat customs. The watchdog organization accused members of Herat customs of corruption, saying these officials embezzle millions of Afghanis on a regular basis. "Tax fraud going on at customs has fuelled large-scale corruption. There is credible evidence that proves the existence of corruption at Islam Qala and Herat customs. The trend is going on daily," said the organization's chief Khalil Parsa. According to statistics, hundreds of trucks come from Islam Qala and Torghundi ports every day and are processed at Herat customs - where they have to pay their tariffs and other duties. But the organization said in many cases, traders deceive customs officials by overloading their vehicles to escape customs duties. However, a number of Herat customs officials have been handed over to legal and judicial institutions on charges of corruption. But the watchdog has said there is speculation that none of the suspects have so far been held accountable. In reference to the allegations, the Herat attorney general's office has reported that it has launched an investigation into the reports in order to track down the perpetrators and bring them to justice. "Corruption crime investigation department is presently investigating at least eight cases of corruption regarding Islam Qala and Torghundi customs officials including the investigation of 17 vehicles that allegedly slipped through customs while carrying iron ore," said Mohammad Arif Irfan, head of the crime investigation department of Herat's appeal court. "I know several people were struggling financially but became very rich within six months or a year after working at customs. Now they have purchased very expensive houses in the most expensive parts of Herat," said Abdul Wali Khatibi, a resident of Herat. Meanwhile, Herat governor's office has said that the provincial government is resolute in combatting corruption in the province. "The provincial government in Herat is determined to fight corruption. There has been the issue of corruption, but now reforms have been put in place," said Farhad, spokesman for Herat governor. Herat customs has meanwhile been run by an acting chief over the past year and a half. / Written by Jawid Ziaratjaie
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