Prime Minister Omar Razzaz on Monday decided to refer the case of a tobacco factory that illegally manufactures and smuggles cigarettes to the State Security Court (SSC), as it is considered an economic crime.
The decisions came amid criticism of the initial decision by the government to leave the case in the hands of the prosecution office at the Jordan Customs Department.
The SSC is a mixed military-civilian special court whose jurisdiction is limited to a set of crimes defined in the law governing its mandate.
Razzaz had earlier formed a ministerial committee he chaired to follow up on the case and examine all details, so as to speed up the process and wrap up the case.
During the first meeting of the committee, Razzaz highlighted the importance for the panel to coordinate with stakeholders.
It should also take necessary procedures and acquaint the public with any related developments, stressing the need to respect investigation procedures and its confidentiality, he added.
The premier stressed that there is no immunity for the corrupt and no one is above the law.
During the first meeting of the committee, Razzaz highlighted the importance for the panel to coordinate with stakeholders, take necessary procedures and acquaint the public with any related developments, stressing the need to respect investigation procedures and confidentiality.
In addition to Razzaz, the committee comprises the deputy prime minister and ministers of interior, justice, state for legal affairs, finance, state for media affairs and industry, trade and supply.
Also on Monday, Minister of State for Media Affairs Jumana Ghunaimat announced that arrest warrants had been issued for 30 suspects who are allegedly involved in the case of illegally producing and smuggling tobacco.
Ghunaimat, who is also the government spokesperson, stressed that the government had directed the customs department and relevant security apparatuses to arrest the suspects and issue travel bans against them, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.
The minister denied allegations that a son of a suspect had left the Kingdom on Sunday, as circulated on social media outlets, but acknowledged that one person implicated in the case had tried to leave the country and was arrested at the airport.
Razzaz reaffirmed that the government is going on with its pledges to fight all corruption cases, and that all those who are proven to be involved in such cases will be held to account, reiterating the government’s commitment to fighting all forms of financial and administrative corruption and to preserving public money.
Ghunaimat explained that the government was still collecting information and investigating details that can lead to solving the case.
The issue was raised by two MPs, Nabil Gheishan and Musleh Tarawneh, during their deliberations of the government’s policy statement at the Lower House.
The case was being tackled by authorities before the two lawmakers mentioned it in their remarks under the Dome, according to Gheishan, who said that concerned officials dealt with the first leads on April 26, 2017, after a complaint by two international cigarette companies that their trademarks were being forged.
“The amount of taxes and fees lost in the process at the time was estimated at JD155 million ($218 MILION) ,” he said. However, the legislator claimed that the estimated loss was reduced to JD5 million and four seized machines were returned to the factory, which “resumed business as usual without the approval of the Department of Standards and Metrology”.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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