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Abdul Rauf, Sohail Shams, Haleem Siddiqui detention scandal of Rs 15b, 13 FIRs soon

Abdul Rauf, Sohail Shams, Haleem Siddiqui detention scandal of Rs 15b, 13 FIRs soon

KARACHI: A few shipping lines, their agents with connivance of PICT are blackmailing importers to get additional demurrage and detention charges. These shipping lines with the help of some senior customs officials are robbing businessmen to the tune of Rs 15 billion per year. Importers confirmed name of Deputy MD of Greenpak Abdul Rauf would be included in the FIR for demanding illegal demurrage and detention charges.

Sources said various importers have filed 13 applications to lodge FIRs against these shipping lines and their agents including Deputy MD of Greenpak Abdul Rauf, CEO of United Marine Agency Sohail Shams, COO PICT Khurram Aziz Khan and chairman Marine Group Capt. Haleem Siddiqui who was once director of PICT.

Sources confirmed that the applicants are following up with the Jackson police station on daily basis. The police officials assured the applicants that soon they will lodge the FIRs according to law and take necessary legal action against all the accused persons involved in the mega scandal.

Sources said innocent importers of Pakistan get trapped by seeing these low rates offered by agents of these shipping companies. When the goods are given to the shipping lines in China then they do not give back the goods to importers at Pakistani ports. They start demanding additional very high demurrage and detention charges. Law under SRO 1220(I)/ 2015 explains that shipping companies cannot charge any demurrage and detention where specifically it is not agreed and also specifically not mentioned on the B/L (Bill of lading).

Haleem-Siddiqui

Haleem Siddiqui, chairman Marine Group

 

Importers further revealed that another section 14A of the Customs Act, 1969 says the port (like PICT port) cannot charge any demurrage or detention charges if Customs gives a certificate to importer called the ‘delay and detention certificate’. But despite this certificate, PICT illegally holds goods of importers and charges them heavy amounts as demurrage.

Importers told Customs Today, “they are suffering heavily daily due to non-availability of their goods, along with reputation loss & loss of customers, etc. and also the goods quality is deteriorating daily which leads to total loss very soon if the goods are not disposed in the markets”.

It is pertinent to mention here that at least 31 FIRs had already been lodged against M/s AMI Pakistan in the past. M/s AMI Pakistan Pvt Ltd, a company of Marine Group of which Capt Haleem Siddiqui is the chairman who was also director of the PICT, was facing charges of importing banned goods by filing fake bill of ladings and mis-declaring the goods.

Sources further revealed that in this mega corruption scam, almost 31 FIRs were lodged against M/s AMI Pakistan under the umbrella of free trade agreement with China. AMI Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd was booked for committing crime by issuing of switch bills of lading with the support of several clearing agents and got cleared different goods by mis-declaring the original information with regard to the shipper’s name, port of loading, country of origin to claim inadmissible FTA benefit and clearing banned products with help of PICT officials.

Sources further said due to corruption charges, the Customs Collectorate Appraisement West had reportedly suspended the license of M/s AMI Pakistan on temporary basis. MCC Appraisement East had lodged an FIR against several persons including officials of M/s Pakistan International Container Terminal (PICT) for fraudulent clearance and delivery of fabric consignments by cross shifting of the cargo after examination by Customs.

Sources maintained that as per petition CP-D 882/2016, it was found after investigations that this phenomenon of fraudulent manifestation of consignments was going on for years. The directors of AMI were accused of conniving with the clearing agents in clearing consignments of Indian origin cloth declaring it to be of Chinese origin. The import from India was banned and this illegal activity drew the local textile industry to the brink of a disaster. AMI of Capt (Rtd) Haleem Siddiqui played significant role in the alleged crime involving release of more than 1000 consignments/containers.

As per details, a complaint filed by importers said, “They, through their shipper/agents in China, handed the goods to KMTC Ltd. as trust to be delivered and released here at PICT, Karachi. The shipping lines nominated M/S United Marine Agencies (Private) Limited as their agents at Karachi for the same while the company PICT Ltd. took custody of the goods as trust at PICT port, Karachi. Importers also long back paid in full to the shipping lines the ocean freight charges as agreed between the parties. But despite repeated reminders and visiting office of M/S United Marine Agencies (Private) Limited and of PICT Ltd., they did not release the goods yet”.

Importers further said, “The actions of KMTC Ltd. through its owners, management and staff including but not limited to Jong Seug Park, Yong Hwa Shin, others and of M/S United Marine Agencies (Private) Limited through its owners, management and staff including but not limited to Manzoor Ahmed, Lars Tore Bergstrom, Lars Goran Safverstrom, Mohammad A Dhamee, Sohail Shams, Rishad Kirmani, Mohsin Lodhi, others and of PICT Ltd. through its owners, management and staff including but not limited to Haleem Siddiqui, Christian R. Gonzalez, Roman Felipe S. Reyes, Aasim Azim Siddiqui, Rafael D. Consing Jr., Gordon Alan P Joseph, Hans-Ole Madsen, Sharique Azim Siddiqui, Khurram Aziz Khan, Muhammad Hunain, Junaid Qureshi, Shujaat Hussain, others, individually and jointly, tantamount to conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating, mischief to cause losses, threatening, etc. which attract penal sections under PPC 34, 407, 409, 420, 427, 506, besides others.”

Importers told Customs Today that they give goods as trust (amaanat) to the shipping lines but these companies hold their ‘amaanat’ illegally and blackmail them to pay heavy amounts of charges and thus these shipping lines & agents make good wealth through criminal means.

In another similar complaint, “Importers firm, through their shipper, handed the goods to Evergreen Line as trust to be delivered and released to them here at PICT, Karachi. The shipping lines nominated M/S Greenpak Shipping (Private) Limited as their agents at Karachi for the same while the company PICT Ltd. took custody of the goods as trust at PICT port, Karachi. Importers also long back paid in full to the shipping lines the ocean freight charges as agreed between the parties. But despite repeated reminders and visiting office of M/S Greenpak Shipping (Private) Limited and of PICT Ltd., they did not release the goods yet”.

Importers said, “The actions of Evergreen Line through its owners, management and staff including but not limited to Chang Cheng-Yung, Chang Kuo-Hua, Chang Kuo- Ming, Ko Lee-Ching, Lee Mong-Jye, Hsieh Huey-Chuan, others and of M/S Greenpak Shipping (Private) Limited through its owners, management and staff including but not limited to Javed Iqbal, Mohammad Reza Ghaem Maghami, Safdar Hussain Mehkri, Syed Qamar ul Hasan, Abdul Hamid, others and of PICT Ltd. through its owners, management and staff including but not limited to Haleem Siddiqui, Christian R. Gonzalez, Roman Felipe S. Reyes, Aasim Azim Siddiqui, Rafael D. Consing Jr., Gordon Alan P Joseph, Hans-Ole Madsen, Sharique Azim Siddiqui, Khurram Aziz Khan, Muhammad Hunain, Junaid Qureshi, Shujaat Hussain, others, individually and jointly, tantamount to conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating, mischief to cause losses, threatening, etc. which attract penal sections under PPC 34, 407, 409, 420, 427, 506, besides others.”

A source from a shipping line told Customs Today that around Rs 15 billion is illegally earned by the shipping companies and the ports like PICT per year. Documents received by CT show active connivance of shipping companies like Evergreen line, KMTC and the agents of these shipping lines here in Pakistan like Greenpak shipping for Evergreen Line and United Marine Agencies for KMTC along with the connivance of PICT.

It may be mentioned here that PICT was found involved in many other scams in the past and other businesses owned by Capt. Haleem Siddiqui such as M/s AMI Pakistan were facing investigations in switch bill of lading case. However, the cases against them were not properly pursued and in certain cases minor penalties were imposed.

Sources said Chief operating officer (COO) of PICT Khurram Aziz Khan was also being investigated. He was CEO of QICT in 2007-08 and at that time around 287 containers went missing from QICT.

Importers have finally lodged complaints against these shipping lines, their agents and PICT and approached FIA and NAB so that these fraudsters are stopped to blackmail genuine importers by demanding ‘illegal’ additional charges.

Importers also appealed to the NAB and the FIA to take prompt action against this scam jointly planned and executed by shipping lines, their agents and PICT.