KARACHI: Model Customs Collectorate of Preventive, Karachi has issued a notice to M/s Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd as it started the process to cancel license of the company for sheer violation of the Customs Act 1969 and SRO 1220(I)/2015. Maersk Line and its subsidiary M/s Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd kept on harassing and blackmailing importers to get additional demurrage and detention charges, inflicting huge losses on importers and the national exchequer.
Importers said that Maersk shipping line and its subsidiary in Pakistan, M/s Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd are robbing them of billions of rupees through criminal breach of trust, cheating and threatening. Maersk line is blackmailing them through illegal holding & blocking of their imported goods for the sake of demanding additional demurrage and detention charges. “We 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,” importers added.
Sources said process has been started to cancel license of Pakistan Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd for breaching SRO 1220(I)/2015. The shippers are worried and wanted to know about what will happen to their goods already loaded on Maersk vessels as they could not get delivery of those goods at Pakistan ports in case of cancelation of license of Maersk Pakistan, which is under process now with Customs Preventive. After cancellation or suspension of license of Maersk Line, these shipping lines would not be allowed to call their ships on ports in the event of cancellation of their licenses. Then the goods loaded on them would have to be called at transit locations like Dubai, Singapore, etc. instead of reaching Karachi ports.
Customs Today has already procured copies of the letter issued by Model Customs Collectorate of Preventive while pursuing to cancel license M/s Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd. Assistant Collector Licensing, Hameer Khan in a letter reference No S2/Misc/9/2018-Lic (P) sent to M/s Maersk Pakistan on 13th October in the subject line as: “100% waiver of demurrage and detention and also cancelation of license of Maersk Pakistan Private Limited under rules 603 (Q), 603 (R), 604 (Q) and 607 (E), others under SRO 1220 (I)/2015 and u/s 14A of the Customs Act, 1969 while placing penalty u/s 156(1) 7A of the Customs Act, 1969.
In a move to cancel the licenses of Maersk Line and its subsidiary in Pakistan Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd, importers had written a letter to Chief Collector Enforcement and Collector Customs Preventive to take necessary legal action against Maersk Line and its subsidiary Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd for violating SRO 1220 (I)/2015.
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).
As per section 604 of SRO 1220(I)/2015, the licensing authority (customs) may cancel or refuse to renew license of these shipping companies and agents if they found:
- the licensee is involved in criminal cases, established through conviction under any law for the time being in force;
- or the licensee has violated any applicable law including the provisions of the Act and rules made thereunder or acted in a dishonest manner;
- or the previous record of business showed involvement of licensee in any of the offenses mentioned in the Act.
- The license would be cancelled if the licensee has in the course of its customs business, with intent to defraud, in any manner, wilfully or knowingly deceived, misled or threatened any client.
Meanwhile, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) received a complaint seeking probe to ascertain role of employees of Maersk Line in country’s biggest shipping scandal involving 610 billion rupees.
Importers lodged application against Maersk Line and its subsidiary in Pakistan Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd for conspiracy, cheating and criminal breach of trust under PPC 407, 409, 420, 427, 506 and others so that these fraudsters are stopped to blackmail genuine importers by demanding ‘illegal’ additional charges.
The complaint received by the NAB and the FIA demanded legal action for recoveries of amounts looted and recovering losses of Rs. 610 billion to the national exchequer per year while also stopping such further losses from the accused persons of Maersk Line and M/s Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd including Søren Skou, Claus V. Hemmingsen, Søren Toft, Vincent Clercp, Morten H. Engelstoft, others of Maersk Line and Arslan Khan, Hazanfar Khan, Raheel Salim, Maqsood Ul Hasan Khan, Fuad Khan, Hasan Faraz, Shakeel Masih, Omer Khan, Ali Jawad Alvi, Zafar Iqbal, Ayesha Chowdhry, Zahid Hussain, Salman Ahmad, Aamir Ali, Umais Aziz Khan, Mohammed Naeem, Farheen Mahmud, Mubasshar Iqbal, Affaq Syed, Syed Mohammad Abbas Jafri, Muhammad Tanveer Sharif, Salman Ateeq, Hamza Haq, Ziad Mahboob, Aamir Ibrahim, Yasir Saeed Khan, Amal Sadiq Dawood, Effat Mehmood, Maria Urooj, Zain Warsi, Mehreen Zulfiqar, Awais Saleem, Zafar Iqbal, Syed Osman Iqbal Zaidi, Anum Yaqub, Fahad Ali, Obaid Iqbal, Zahid Hussain, Muhammad Ali Qureshi, Danish Siddiqui, Amir Arif, Arshad Ayub, Syed Mudassir Ali, Syed Hammad Hussain, Ayesha Qadri, Sheikh Samiullah, others of M/S Maersk Pakistan Private Limited.
As per the complaint received by the FIA and the NAB, the nexus of some Customs staff, shipping lines like Maersk Line along with its agent Maersk Pakistan Private Limited, including its owners, managers & staff are making illegal money through malpractice.
“Firstly, customs department delays goods of majority of containers that arrive in red channel. 80% of the goods cleared in red channel take a duration which is more than the free days provided. These shipping lines also force the importers to pay huge illegal sums. The customs staff and shipping lines as mentioned above delay the clearance and delivery of the goods to the importer. Due to this delay, the revenue collection of duty and taxes is slowed down drastically of the actual speed. Like where these goods were to be cleared and delivered in 2 days then it takes an average of 20 days to clear and deliver,” the complaint said.
The complaint received by the FIA and the NAB said, “The total revenue collection by customs department is Rs. 610 billion. If the process of revenue collection is not slowed down by the above-mentioned parties then at least the revenue collections could be doubled. Hence, total loss to national exchequer due to above nexus and illegal acts of the subject accused is Rs. 610 billion”.
“The shipping lines are not allowed to collect any demurrage and detention amounts from the importer when the importer provides ‘delay and detention certificate’ under section 14 A of the Customs Act, 1969. Despite this, the port terminals and shipping lines blackmail and harass the importer to collect hundreds of thousands of rupees per single consignment. Since this is illegal money demanded from the citizens of Pakistan and hence it can be termed as an ‘extortion’ amount,” the complaint said.
The complaint said, furthermore, under rules 603 (Q), 603 (R), 604 (Q) and 607 (E), others of SRO 1220 (I)/2015, the shipping lines cannot charge any demurrage or detention charges where it is not specifically written on the B/L. But still in violation of these rules and laws, the shipping lines fearlessly hold the containers of the importers and charge them exorbitant detention charges. These detention charges even exceed the actual cost of container by a whopping 1,000%!
“The shipping lines charges only 30% of its cost from the importer to allure importer to give his containers to them. All remaining 70% of cost and huge profits are made through illegal means and black money. Like China-Pak cost of shipment for a 40HQ container is charged USD 300 whereas the actual cost to the shipping company is USD 1,000. Pak-China freight is almost USD 0 to USD 10 which is even more surprising. When white income of these shipping lines is only 30% of their cost then it is obvious that they are indulging in many illegal and black activities to cover cost and also make huge profits,” the complaint said.
“When complaints are made to Customs department then they do not take action against the accused which is mandatory under sections 156 (1) 7A of the Customs Act, 1969 and also rules 603 (Q), 603 (R), 604 (Q) and 607 (E), others of SRO 1220 (I)/2015. The nexus of some Customs officials and Maersk Line has made these active provisions of law entirely redundant and they should be severely punished for the same,” the complaint said.
The complaint demanded from the FIA and the NAB to take legal action against the subject accused persons, recover amounts looted by them, recover losses suffered by national exchequer to the tune of Rs. 610 billion per year and stop further losses.