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Rs 15b demurrage & detention scam: Law breakers should be brought to justice, says Khawaja Usman

Rs 15b demurrage & detention scam: Law breakers should be brought to justice, says Khawaja Usman

MULTAN: Former President of President Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Khawaja Muhammad Usman said that the shipping companies including Evergreen Line, Green Pak Shipping, United Marine Agencies, KMTC and terminal operator PICT are big hurdles for progress of national economy.

He said Pakistan is already carrying countless problems and issues due to weak administration and disclosure of recent scam in shipping lines shocked local importers and exporters. Shipping lines are mainstay for our imports and exports because business community carries all shipments with assistance of these shipping lines.

He expressed that few corrupt and dishonest Customs officials have incurred huge losses to Pakistani economy and their corruption is shaking confidence of genuine importers. Corruption from shipping lines is destroying businesses of genuine importers by charging unfair demurrage and detention charges on import shipments. Their corruption and irregularities at port becomes an obstacle for progress of Pakistan.

He said corruption of shipping companies also erodes the trust necessary to build healthy business environment for importers. Due to their violation of SRO 1220 and section 14 A of customs act 1969 is enhancing cost of doing business for genuine importers in the country. Corruption is done in a systemic way in the customs where importers are unable to understand complicated laws and procedures adopted by department.

He said fraudulent staff members of Customs charge different taxes on same imported shipments by applying different customs rules, clear contraband items for sake of kickbacks and unnecessarily hold genuine import shipments by raising any objection. Sometimes corrupt Customs officials detain the genuine import shipments which cause delay and importers pay detention and demurrage charges to shipping line companies. It also spoils the business environment of the country by shaking importers’ confidence.

He said the Federal Board of Revenue must take notice on demand of additional demurrage and detention charges from genuine importers, inflicting billions of losses to the national exchequer. Facilitation payment demands remain a challenge for some businesses for clearance of shipments in the country and it is discouraging genuine importers due to massive corruption and non-professional behaviour of officials.

He suggested that law breakers should be brought to justice through strict accountability as several complaints against them were received by the chamber and when justice is not done the perception of helplessness is reinforced and momentum in the process of accountability building is lost.

He appealed from newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan to take action against the corrupt shipping lines, their agents and terminal operator to encourage genuine importers for boosting business activities in the country.

It is important to mention here that some importers have already filed 13 applications to lodge FIRs against these shipping lines and their agents including Deputy MD of Greenpak Abdul Rauf, CEO of United Marine Agencies Sohail Shams, COO PICT Khurram Aziz Khan and Chairman Marine Group Capt. Haleem Siddiqui, for demanding additional demurrage and detention charges and causing Rs 15 billion losses to importers per year.

sohail shams

CEO United Marine Agencies Sohail Shams

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.”

Haleem-Siddiqui

Haleem Siddiqui, Chairman Marine Group

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.”